Suspect named in 1995 rape, murder of 14-year-old Nacole Smith

Atlanta Police also linked the suspect to the rape of a 13-year-old East Point girl just months after Smith’s rape and murder.
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 5:40 PM EST
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UPDATE (CBS46) — Published January 4, 2022 — The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and the Atlanta Police Department have confirmed they have identified the man they believe is responsible for the rape and murder of 14-year-old Nacole Smith back in 1995.

A news conference was held to provide a significant update in the case. However, authorities did not release the name of the suspect, only that he passed away in August of 2021 from liver and kidney failure. During the press conference, Det. Vince Velazquez, who has since retired from APD and is a security consultant, talked about his involvement with the case over the years.

Velazquez says APD reopened the case in 2002 and in 2004 they got a forensic match after a 13-year-old girl was raped in East Point. However, despite their investigation, they were not able to identify a suspect at that time. Det. Scott Demeester took up the torch after Velazquez and other veterans retired and spent hundreds of hours on the case.

Eventually, the police department was able to use genetic genealogy and match a DNA sample to the suspect. Investigators were able to find a second cousin twice removed from the suspect. They were notified of the match just after Christmas.

Unfortunately, the suspect died in August 2021 of liver and kidney failure.

Nacole’s mother spoke during the press conference. She described the confirmation of the suspect’s identification as bittersweet, but said it did not bring closure. She says she still has many unanswered questions and her feelings are all over the place.

Betty Brown, who was the 13-year-old East Point girl who was raped several months after Nacole, was also at the press conference and gave an emotional statement. Betty and Nacole’s mother have become close over the years.

The Atlanta Police Department announced after the press conference that Kelvin Arnold is the primary suspect in the case. Here is the full Atlanta Police press conference announcing the update.

Nacole Smith

In 1995, Nacole Smith was walking to school in Southwest Atlanta, but turned back around after forgetting a school assignment at home. She cut through the nearby wooded area, where police say she was attacked.

The 14-year-old was shot twice in the face and found in a wooded area off Campbellton Road – less than a mile from her home.

More than 20 years after Smith’s death, retired detective Richard Boone spoke to CSI Atlanta Investigators with CBS46.

“I touched her on her neck to see if there were any signs of life and there wasn’t any,” Boone said.

She’d been raped and beaten.

“She never got a chance to go to college. Took everything away from her and her family as well,” Boone said.