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Detective Tracey takes us through one of her most memorable cases where a murderer’s greed and arrogance lead to a slew of sloppy mistakes. Even as the crime rocks the community in Tracey’s small town for years to come.

Special Guest

Investigator Tracey
After reading her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 7 Inv. Tracey knew that she wanted to solve real life mysteries.  She graduated with a BS in Criminal Justice/ Law Enforcement after which, she attend the police academy in 1983 as one of only a few females in her class.  For the next 30 years she was a Criminal Investigator for the Solicitor General and District Attorney’s offices.  She is married to a retired Federal Special Agent, has two grown sons and a Jack Russell fur baby.

Read Transcript

Paul:  Hey, Small Town Fam, this is Paul Holes. Make sure you subscribe to The Briefing Room with Detectives Dan and Dave. Season 2 is out now. Subscribe now and thanks.


911 Operator:  911.

Worker:  Yes, this is a [beep] muffler. He had a car parked in my driveway this morning when I came in, and I just walked down to look at it, and it’s a lady, and I see blood all over.

911 Operator:  Do you know what’s wrong with her?

Worker:  She’s not moving. It doesn’t look good at all.

Yeardley:  I’m Yeardley.

Zibby:  AndI’m Zibby and we’re fascinated by true crime.

Yeardley:  So, we invited our friends, Detectives Dan and Dave.

Zibby:  To sit down with us and share their most interesting cases.

Dan:  I am Dan.

Dave:  And I’m Dave. We’re identical twins and we’re detectives in small town USA.

Dan:  Dave investigates sex crimes and child abuse.

Dave:  Dan investigates violent crimes. And together we’ve worked on hundreds of cases including assaults, robberies, murders, burglaries, sex abuse, and child abuse.

Dan:  Names, places, and certain details including relationships have been altered to protect the privacy of the victims and their families.

Dave:  Thoughwe realize that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we hope you’ll join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved out of respect for what they’ve been through. Thank you.

[Small Town Dicks theme]

Yeardley:  Today, on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.

Dan:  Thanks for having me back.


Yeardley:  And Detective Dave.

Dave:  Good morning.

Yeardley:  And we’re beyond thrilled to have a new guest today, Investigator Tracey.

Tracey : Good morning. I’m thrilled to be here.

Yeardley:  Thank you for coming. So, before we get into this murder case that you brought to us today, can you just quickly explain your role as a DA investigator and how that differs, for instance, from a homicide detective?

Tracey:  All right, so I’m going to use Dan and Dave as an example. They work their case and they make an arrest. Well, really, that’s only the beginning of the process. So, what happens is they send their case to the prosecutor’s office or the District Attorney’s office, if it’s a felony case, which they work felonies. So, it would get assigned to a criminal investigator like myself in the DA’s office, and I would review it. I would reach out to them, talk to them, say, what else have you learned? What’s going on? Where’s the evidence? Has the blood gone to the crime lab or whatever? I crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s, and then I would follow the case all the way through to trial, if there was a trial.

 So, I would assist the assistant DA in preparing the case for trial, which means it could be anywhere from a year, two years, up to five years later that a case would go to trial. So, all of these witnesses, the victim, the evidence, everything has to be found again. And so, there’s a lot of going out searching. That’s basically what a criminal investigator for the District Attorney’s office does. We are certified police officers. I went through the police academy. I had to qualify with my firearm.

Dave:  They’re detectives. They just work for a different agency.

Tracey:  That’s correct. And we also, in my agency, we’re on call. We went out on any homicides, police involved shootings, any major crimes that happen to advise Detective Dan and Detective Dave. Okay, yes, you need to get a search warrant for the car. Yes, you need to get a search warrant for the house. Okay, I think it’s a good idea that you canvas the neighborhood or whatever. We were there for advice and support.

Zibby:  That’s really helpful. And so, you’ve brought us a case.

Tracey:  Yes.

Yeardley:  Tell us how this case came to you.

Tracey:  Well, I was on call. It was April the 16th of 1993, and I was at the office. It was in the morning. I responded to a muffler shop that was not too far from the office. But back in 1993, our county in that area was very rural. So, the workers had reported to work that morning at the muffler shop, they saw a car parked. They pulled off of the road, but just into the entrance of the muffler shop, not up towards the building, but more down towards the street. And they just thought, oh, somebody had left it there for them to do work on. They’d find a call from somebody to say, “Oh, I’d left my car. Will you look at the muffler?” Well, the car sat there for a couple of hours. It didn’t move. Nothing happened. They didn’t have a message. So, a customer and one of the workers walked down to the car and inside of the car in the driver’s seat, but slumped over to the passenger seat, they found a woman who had been shot in the head and she was dead.

911 Operator:  911.

Worker:  Yes, this is a [beep]. Had a car parked in my driveway this morning when I came in, and I just walked down to look at it, and it’s a lady, and I see blood all over.

911 Operator:  Do you know what’s wrong with her?

Worker:  She’s not moving. It doesn’t look good at all.

Zibby:  How old was she?

Tracey:  She was 53 years old. Her name was Leena.

Zibby:  She was shot in the head. Were you able to tell right away that this was definitely a homicide and not a suicide.

Tracey:  Correct. She was shot twice in the head and there was no gun at the scene.

Dave:  Suicide victims don’t typically shoot themselves twice in the head.

Tracey:  Yeah. So, she’s clearly been murdered. Yes. So, what our assignment was that day was to go canvas the street where she lived. They already established who she was by the time I got there by running her tag and saw that she lived nearby. So, we go down to Leena’s neighborhood, and we start knocking on doors, and we find out from the neighbors that she had a best friend named Tammy Sue who she worked with at a factory nearby that made contact lenses. And they said that she and Tammy Sue were really thick, and if anything, Tammy Sue would know what was going on. So, we went to the factory that makes the contact lenses, showed our badges, told him we were there to interview Tammy Sue. The human resources manager comes out, and he says, “We need to come back at 5 o’clock.

Yeardley:  What? Why? That seems like a pretty pressing issue.

Tracey:  He didn’t want to disrupt the work that his workers were doing, so he said, “Yeah, we needed to come back.” We had to threaten to lock him up for obstruction.

Dave:  It never ceases to amaze me, these people that will come out and run interference and try to basically posture and say, you think you’re in charge here? No, I’m in charge here. This is my turf. It’s crazy what police deal with. And this is a typical case of a lack of the big picture and somebody saying, “Well, you’re going to disrupt my factory, so can you come back when it’s a little less stressful for us?”

Zibby:  Tracy, did you feel like that was truly one of those situations where it was a power play or we’re like you’re suspicious?

Tracey:  It was definitely a power play on his part. I get it. He’s head of HR and he’s going to not let us come in and tell him to shut down his line so that we can talk to Tammy Sue. But after we informed him that he would be going to jail, he said, “Okay, we can talk to Tammy Sue.” [laughs] So, he found us the office and Tammy Sue got off of the line, and we had to inform her that her best friend had been murdered. And, of course, she was quite upset. And we asked, was anything going on in her life? She’s a 53-year-old female who worked, single, what’s going on in her life that would make her be a victim of this sort?

 And she said, well, you know, a couple of weeks ago, she had a burglary at her house, and she said that Leena’s boyfriend had passed away and had left her a small life insurance policy. Like I said, back in 1993, this part of the county was very rural. There were a lot of country folk, and they didn’t trust banks. So, Leena decided to get her $15,000 from the life insurance that she inherited in cash.

Zibby:  No.

Yeardley:  And keep it under the mattress or something.

Tracey:  She taped it to the back of the headboard on her bed. The unusual thing was that only half of the money was gone. So, Leena called the police.

911 Operator:  911.

Leena:  Is there any police around?

911 Operator:  Yes.What’s the problem?

Leena:  The problem is I have had some money taken from my home.

911 Operator:  You’ve had what taken from your home?

Leena:  The money.

911 Operator:  You know who took the money?

Leena:  No, I don’t.

911 Operator:  Was it a burglary?

Leena:  Well, my back door, the swing door-

911 Operator:  Huh, huh.

Leena:  -it has been cut.

911 Operator:  We’ll get someone over there.

Leena:  Okay, thank you.

Tracey:  Officer Harold responded. He was a uniform officer. He drives around waiting on calls and got a burglary call. He responded.

Yeardley:  Okay.

Tracey:  She explained the situation. She explained to him that she got the money in bundles of hundreds. And when you do that from a bank, the bank keeps a record of the serial numbers on the bills. So, Officer Harold said to her, “Well, I will investigate this case for you.” Now, let me explain, normally, a uniform officer would not investigate a burglary. Okay.

Yeardley:  They would call a detective.

Tracey:  Correct. Here she would write a report, and it would be entitled burglary with just the bare minimum facts and then it would go to a burglary detective, and the burglary detective would investigate the case.

Zibby:  Would it be illegal or against the rules for him to investigate it or just unusual?

Dave:  It’s definitely unusual. But also depending on the agency, maybe a sergeant comes up to him and says, “Hey, that’s not how we do business here. You have to forward that to a detective.”

Tracey:  Right. He probably would have gotten written up for it, gotten some days off without pay or something like that, and told, next time, send it to a burglary detective. So later on, that afternoon, we all met back at the police department for a briefing. I reported to the lead detective on the case that Officer Harold had responded a couple of weeks prior to a burglary call at Miss Leena’s house. And so, there should be a burglary report on file. Right? But there’s no report. He did not write a report.

Yeardley:  Really?

Zibby:  And what does Officer Harold have to say about that?

Tracey:  Well, let me back up. Victim Leena had a son who was about 19, 20 years old, who was a drug addict. His name was Tom. Officer Harold gets called in and was asked about it.

Yeardley:  About the missing report?

Tracey:  Yes. So, Officer Harold says it was apparent to him that the son was the one that had taken the money, half of the money, $7,000 and something. And Leena said she didn’t want her son going to jail, so she didn’t want him to write a report about it. So, he’s blaming the victim for why there’s no report. So, he writes a report two weeks later after the fact. In the meantime, the investigation continues on. They did get a search warrant for his patrol car.

Yeardley:  Why do you have to get a search warrant for a police car? Doesn’t the police agency own the car, and therefore they’re entitled to search it no matter what?

Tracey:  Absolutely. But because this was involving a murder, we just wanted to be abundantly cautious. Police officers do carry personal items in their car. And while, technically, yes, you can go in there anytime, we just felt like, okay, we get a search warrant, we’re covered. There’s not going to be any problem with any of the evidence if there is any that sees out of the car.

Dave:  Are these take-home cars or they leave them at the agency when they get off their shift?

Tracey:  These are take-home cars.

Dave:  So, that also solves the search warrant issue, that he takes it home with him. It’s his vehicle. It’s not somebody else’s. There is a privacy interest in that. So, like she said, they write a search warrant just to make sure that they are completely blessed. And this guy, I mean, that car is with him half of his day.

Zibby:  And did you find anything in his car that seemed weird or evidentiary?

Tracey:  Yes, we found some evidence in his patrol car, including a fully automatic M16 in the trunk, which he said he was keeping there for when the urban upheaval happened.

Zibby:  What is an urban upheaval?

Tracey:  That’s just what he said. Let me give a little bit about his character. His nickname was the Terminator. He fashioned himself after the movie, The Terminator. He wore those Terminator glasses, and he had a Terminator figurine on the dashboard of his patrol car. He was also about 6’5”, very built. He worked out. He owned a gym. It was near that area where all of this happened. It was his side business. There was belief that steroids were being run out of the gym.

Zibby:  Okay, so, yes, that does paint a very strong picture of who this guy is and why he’d have an automatic weapon in the back of his car, just in case of something like an urban upheaval.

Yeardley:  Is it illegal to have an automatic weapon even as a police officer?

Dave:  There are ways for private citizens to own automatic weapons legally, but ATF has to blush you on that. What I will say is there’s no agency in the country that is going to allow that officer to carry an automatic weapon in his patrol car.

Yeardley:  Okay.

Dave:  I’m picturing he’s super cop.

Tracey:  Exactly.

Dave:  Yeah.And so, he’s got the supplemental weaponry to handle any situation that may arise. Every agency’s got these types of guys that are maybe overinvested and they just look the part. They’re the guy that walks into the room and you’re like, he’s a cop.

Tracey:  Right?

Dave:  She painted a perfect picture now I know who we’re dealing with.

Yeardley:  What was he like when you were questioning him?

Tracey:  When he was being questioned about all of this? He basically sat with his legs spread apart, his fist on his thigh, leaning forward, just acting like, “No, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I did what she wanted me to do. I don’t know how she ended up dead. I know nothing.”

Investigator:  The witness says this guy without a moustache passed me dinner. So, I’m standing by the side of the car, now Officer [beep], who is obviously a friend of yours, a colleague of yours who would probably not only risk his life but, if need be, give his life for you out there, say, “I never saw [beep] after 08:30 that night.” Now, you know, I didn’t come in here and make that up. I just read the statement. It was sent down to me a little while ago from up there where they’re talking to those people.

Officer Harold:  I was sitting right there with him at the fire station. I was sitting right there with him because I was picking on him, but he couldn’t tell which one [beep] County was.

Investigator:  What time was this?

Officer Harold:  After 9 o’clock [beep]

Investigator:  [beep] You’re making it harder and harder. I’ve been trying to think of possible explanations, possible scenarios here, because we hate to believe what the evidence shows, but we’re rational people and we do this for a living, so we know how these things work. Could you, for some inexplicable reason, it would make more sense than that you did this. Did you find that car that night? Did you check the car that night and find her there and think, my gosh, did something go wrong? Were you for some reason afraid because you’d had contact with her? Because you’d not made these reports? Help me here. Is there some other–

Officer Harold:  No.

Investigator:  Give me an explanation. Help me understand what in the world happened. I’m telling you know where you are. I don’t have to tell you where you are. You know where you are. You understand the nature of evidence. You understand the nature of eyewitness testimony. You understand the value. You’ve done it. You’ve shown photo lineups. You’ve constructed them. You know what it means when somebody says, that’s the person who is, as far as we know, a law abiding, hardworking business person who’s intelligent and who’s bright and who’s observant.

 And something out of the ordinary catches his attention. And he not only says, that’s the guy, but he says, that’s the guy. But he don’t have the mustache. He’s not wrong. He’s not mistaken. Was you? Was you that he saw there on the side of the road that night? Your explanation to us has been, he’s mistaken. Other people saw I was here. People saw me there. My friends, my colleagues and friends saw me there. They say he wasn’t there. There’s only one conclusion, you, yourself know what the conclusion is. What’s going to happen to you now?

Officer Harold:  Don’t charge me with murder and armed robbery until we go to court and I can get this cleared up. And my life will be ruined forever.

Investigator:  What about your daddy and your brother, your family and your wife, your children?

Officer Harold:  Exactly. That’s what hurts the most.

Investigator:  So, did something else happen?

Officer Harold:  Nothing happened.

Investigator:  Was it a chance encounter? Did you meet [unintelligible  there? Did she accuse you of something? Did she threaten you in some way? Did she act in a threatening manner towards you? I mean, good grief, you know as well as I do that a woman can pull the trigger just as much as a man your size can. Did you think that she was going to do something to you? Did you react out of fear? What went wrong? it does not– I agree with you. It doesn’t make sense that you plotted this and plotted it in such a way that, bang, here you are a week later.

 I’ve been doing police work here in [beep] county for over 15 years. I’ve spent well over 10 years of that in detective division. I like to think of myself as reasonably intelligent. I understand evidence. I understand the value of eyewitness testimony. I understand that when you show a photographic lineup, and in your case, there were eight photographs there, more than we normally put in there, the police officer’s uniform on. That’s what they saw. That when you show them this photo lineup and you’ve done it. I’ve seen victims of terrible crimes become emotional, break down, can’t look at the picture, point at it, look away. I’ve seen them think about a long time say, well, I just don’t know.

 But if I had to pick somebody, this one looks the most likely. That ain’t worth a lot. When a man looks at the photo lineup and he says that guy right there, but he didn’t have the mustache, that is a tremendous eyewitness identification. That’s the kind of thing that in a case you hope for. Believe you me, we were hoping to hear something else from him when we showed him your picture with those other people there. But when he says it’s him without the mustache, it doesn’t come any better than me. And he says, the same guy, the officer was standing down there wearing his yellow raincoat with his flashlight. Big man stooped over, looking in the car with his flashlight, patrol car behind him, blue lights going, what happened? What brought you to that point?

 How does a man of your caliber, of your intelligence, of your ability, of your experience, man who’s dedicated his life to serving the public in the Marine Corps, in police work, dedicated his life, gone the extra mile, serve on the swat day, hours never matter. Job needs to be done. Do the job like so many of us have done through the years, sacrifice time with a family you love to do this job.

[Break 1]

Zibby:  So, this is mid-April. You didn’t start talking to Officer Harold until about two weeks after Leena was discovered dead in her car, right?

Tracey:  Yes. The reason that the date is important is that during the investigation, we learned that on the evening of April the 15th, Leena was murdered. Everybody knows what April 15th is. And back then, you had to mail off your tax returns. So, this happened on a road that there was a post office on. So, it was very busy, more busy than it normally would be because there’s people going back and forth mailing their taxes. So, we did a traffic stop on the road right in front of the muffler shop, and every car that came by questioned, did you drive by here on April the 15th to mail your taxes or for whatever? And several people had. And we said, “Did you notice anything unusual?” We noticed a police car, a marked unit with his blue lights going. Had somebody pulled over in the parking lot of the muffler shop. It was raining that night. They described a very large police officer wearing a yellow raincoat.

Yeardley:  Officer Harold, I presume.

Tracey:  Yes. So, we learned Miss Leena had told Tammy Sue that Officer Harold had called her and said, “Hey, I think I found some of your money and I need for you to bring the rest of your money with you to meet me so that we can compare serial numbers.” So, when she was found in her car at the muffler shop, her purse was missing, and she told Tammy Sue she was going to meet Officer Harold to compare the serial numbers. So, we put together a photo lineup containing Officer Harold’s photo, because one of the witnesses saw Officer Harold pull out from the muffler shop and get back on the road. And they were driving along beside each other. And civilians, they get nervous when there’s a police car by them, so they might turn and look and whatnot. And they picked Officer Harold out of a photo lineup.

Zibby:  Wow. So, now you know from Tammy Sue that the day before Miss Leena was found dead in her car, she had plans to meet Officer Harold with the other half of her deceased boyfriend’s insurance money.

Yeardley:  And now we have a witness who can place Officer Harold in the same vicinity where Leena was found murdered. Whoa, that’s big.

Tracey:  That’s correct. I mentioned that he had the yellow raincoat on because it was raining that night. We had the raincoat processed at the crime lab, and there was blood spatter on the raincoat. There was her blood matched via DNA in his patrol car on the armrest. She was shot twice in the head. And back then, we were taught a shooting system called a double tap, and that you would shoot twice and then stop. Now, we’re taught you just keep shooting until the threat is gone. But back then, we always double tapped and holstered.

Zibby:  She was double tapped.

Tracey:  She was double tapped.

Yeardley:  So, you have a search warrant to search his car? He’s already been questioned about Miss Leena. Is he freaking out at all about how bad this looks for him?

Tracey:  He went about life as normal.

Zibby:  Why didn’t he cover his tracks better?

Dave:  Blood stains don’t necessarily stand out. I mean, it could have been trace evidence that only the lab is going to pick up.

Tracey:  Well, he took his patrol car on the 16th and had it detailed, and he paid for it with a $100 bill.

Zibby:  Oh, my God.

Yeardley:  This guy. Wow. And the detailer still left blood on the armrest, right? I don’t think you should get his money back, maybe.


Tracey:  And he also bought T-shirts advertising his gym, and he paid for them with six $100 bills. This was all after the fact.

Zibby:  This motherfucker?

Tracey:  Yeah.

Yeardley:  It’s just so arrogant. It’s so, I will get away with this. What’s the big deal?

Zibby:  So, what happens to the terminator once you guys put all this together? How do you come down on him?

Tracey:  Well, he’s arrested for murder, and our DA decided to go for the death penalty against him. We had a trial. Because of his arrogance, he’s not going to plead guilty. He said he didn’t do it.

Zibby:  Really? He’s going to maintain he didn’t do it despite the raincoat, the witnesses, the fact he had his car detailed poorly, by the way, and he’s paying for things with these missing hundred-dollar bills.

Tracey:  That’s correct. And right before trial, very interestingly, he had a vinyl notebook and most police officers carried him back then, a vinyl notebook with a legal pad that slips down in it. Another DA investigator pulled the legal pad out of the notepad and outfly four $100 bills that match the sequential numbers that we had gotten from the bank.

Dave:  Clearly, somebody’s planting evidence in his notebook.

Tracey:  Right. And that’s what he said about the blood in his patrol car, that it was planted while it was at the police department being processed.

Yeardley:  So, now he’s also blaming other police officers.

Tracey:  Yes.

Yeardley:  That is bold.

Tracey:  A little interesting aside, the night that he was being arrested and was being taken to jail, his brother was a Deputy Sheriff at the jail and was working right then. So, we had to get his brother away from the jail. So, myself and another investigator from the DA’s office carried Officer Harold to a local city jail just to hold him long enough that we could transfer him to the Maine county jail. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. We’re just in disbelief like you are. We’ve never had anything like this happen. I mean, it hurt my heart that someone who did the same thing I did would do this. We were upset about it, couldn’t believe it. And we were sitting there and he was sound asleep in the jail cell.

Yeardley:  They call that the guilt sleep, right, guys?

Dan:  They often have no trouble falling asleep. And it’s always puzzled me because if I was in that room and I had not committed a crime, I’d be bouncing off the walls, wanting out, wanting to explain myself and proclaim my innocence. But these guys, they just nod off like it’s no big deal.

Dave:  I was curious. He’s in the back of the car while you guys are driving there. Sometimes those rides are lively and the person is protesting and expressing their innocence. Other times it’s crickets.

Tracey:  This was a cricket’s ride.

Dave:  It’s interesting.

Yeardley:  So, what was the verdict in Harold’s trial?

Tracey:  Well, he was tried in 1995 and he was found guilty. However, in the state where we live, to get a death penalty sentence, it has to be a unanimous verdict. The 12 jurors have to all vote for the death penalty, and we did not get a unanimous verdict for the death penalty, he’s serving life in prison.

Dan:  So, at sentencing, typically, the defense will present mitigating factors. What were the mitigating factors that they wanted the jury to consider?

Tracey:  Well, his brother, who worked in the jail, saved his life because he got up on the stand and talked about what a hero to him his big brother had been all of his life, what a great big brother he had been to him, and he really looked up to him. He went into law enforcement because of him. And please spare my brother’s life.

Zibby:  I have a question about that then. His brother gives this heartfelt testimony about what a hero Harold has been to him personally. But he’s talking about the same guy who executed someone and who’s completely compromised his own agency. So, does Harold’s brother lose your respect and the respect of his fellow officers?

Tracey:  Well, I don’t know about other people. His brother’s still in law enforcement, and he’s actually a really, really nice guy, and we all liked him a lot, and we felt sorry for him. We really did feel bad for him. He was in a no-win situation, and he did what he could to save his brother’s life, and we didn’t hold that against him.

Dave:  Yeah, I think about the people that we’ve arrested for big crimes. You speak with their families afterwards, and they’re good people, and they’re trying to reconcile how they feel about the crime itself and then how they feel about the person who committed the crime. And I always understand the conflict and that they love the person. They don’t accept what they did. So, you’re asking a brother to cut bait and turn on his brother that he’s looked up to for so long. I understand the conflict and I understand him pleading for his brother’s life. I do the same. Don’t ever shoot anybody Dan.

Dan:  Might shoot you.


Yeardley:  Dan.

Zibby:  Did the whole department attend the trial?

Tracey:  The judge would not allow anyone in uniform to come and sit in the trial.

Zibby:  Why is that?

Tracey:  Just they didn’t want the jurors to be intimidated or swayed in any way. I’m sure he had friends on the department, but you could come and sit in the trial. You just couldn’t wear your uniform or a badge or anything identifying you as law enforcement.

Zibby:  Were you there?

Tracey:  Yes. I sat right behind the DA the whole entire trial.

Dan:  Did he take the stand in his own defense?

Tracey:  As a matter of fact, he did. His personality wouldn’t let him not get up on the stand and testify.

Dave:  I kind of figured.

Zibby:  And what about Miss Leena’s son, Tom?

Tracey:  We believe that he stole half of the money. He did get a life insurance policy from his mother’s death, and he bought a corvette, and he went on a cruise, and he did not pay for her funeral.

Yeardley:  Did he attend the trial?

Tracey:  He showed up. We prepared him for trial, told him to wear nice clothes. He showed up in blue jeans and raggedy tennis shoes, and we had to run out and buy him clothes. And our chief investigator loaned him his shoes to wear.

Yeardley:  Does that mean they didn’t have a good relationship? or was he just being influenced by the drugs he was taking?

Tracey:  I don’t know about their relationship, but I do know that he was a drug addict.

Zibby:  Did you guys ever find out what actually happened at Leena’s car?

Tracey:  Yes. We believe that Officer Harold told the victim to meet him at the muffler shop. He pulled up in his patrol car, turned on his blue lights, got out, asked her to roll her window down, saying, “Did you bring the money?” And when she got the window rolled down, he shot her twice in the head and stole her purse that had the money in it. Now, to people driving by, it looked just like police stop. So, you’ve asked, “Well, why didn’t he cover his tracks better or whatever?” As my DA put it in his opening statement, it was murder in plain sight. I mean, you’re driving by, you see police have people pulled over all the time. You don’t think anything of it. You think it’s just a traffic stop, they’re getting a speeding ticket or whatever.

 Also, her front driver’s side tire had been punctured by a knife and it was flat. I’m not sure what his thinking on that was, other than when he was not there and just her car was there. It would look like a car with a flat tire just sitting there.

Zibby:  Oh.

Yeardley:  I see. Any idea why he chose the muffler shop?

Tracey:  They had a nice, big parking lot. It’s off of a road, and it was near her house, and it was in the zone that he worked.

Zibby:  My God.

Yeardley:  Oh, my God. I imagine this murder really shook your small town up.

Tracey:  Well, I think back in the 90s, law enforcement was viewed differently than it is today.

Yeardley:  Better or worse?

Tracey:  Better. I think that the community rallied around that we were going after a rogue officer who committed a murder, and we were asking for the death penalty. And so, we were very supported in that. One thing of personal note, I have two sons, and they were quite young when this happened. And I tried to keep things like this, my job, and what I dealt with away from them. But several years, I would say, in the late 90s, I got called out. I was a single mom at that time, but it didn’t matter. I had to leave my children in the middle of the night. Wonderful neighbor agreed to anytime I needed to, I could just bundle them up and take them down to their house and they’d get them off to school for me.

 So, I had to wake him up in the middle of the night. And my youngest son said, I told him what was going on. I was honest with him. I’m going out. Somebody’s been killed. And he said, “Did Officer Harold do it?”

Zibby:  Really?

Yeardley:  Wow.

Tracey:  How’d that make you feel?

Tracey:  I think at the time I was just shocked that was even in his mind. And now I feel guilty about it. I really do.

Yeardley:  Why?

Tracey:  That they were exposed to things that other children weren’t. Even though I tried to keep it from them, I couldn’t. But I think if you were to ask them today, they’re grown, they would say, “Oh, I don’t even remember that.” But it affected me.

Zibby:  What do you do with all of the feelings that come with the dark side of your job?

Tracey:  Well, you’re probably going to laugh and we’re going to get all the jokes about underwater basket weaving.


Zibby:  Say what?

Tracey:  I turned to basket weaving.

Yeardley:  Literally basket weaving?

Tracey:  Literally basket weaving. I’ve been weaving baskets since 1985. I found that I could go down to my basement, my little basket weaving room studio, and I could just get into the rhythm of the weaving, the process of it, and block everything that had happened that week or the night before or whatever. I could just block it out. And I still weave to this day.

Dave:  So, I’m looking at one of your bags over here or is it a basket?

Tracey:  It’s a basket.

Dan:  It’s basket, Dave.

Tracey:  It’s a Nantucket basket.

Dave:  I’m looking at the Nantucket basket, and I’m curious, what did the first basket look like?


Tracey:  Not like that.

Yeardley:  You listeners can’t see what we’re looking at here, but Tracy’s little purse basket is the most beautiful, exquisitely detailed, precisely crafted creation. It’s stunning.

Zibby:  It really is amazing.

Yeardley:  Unbelievable.

Zibby:  How many baskets do you think you’ve woven? Is that the right tense?

Yeardley:  That is the right tense.

Tracey:  Yes. In the thousands. One time when my boys were little, they tried to count just the ones I had in my house, and they gave up close to 300. So, I have them everywhere.

Yeardley:  Did you have any friends that you could actually process your experiences in conversation, heart to heart in that way.

Tracey:  At the time? No, not really other than my coworkers and Dan and Dave can attest to how off color we can get sometimes with our teasing and joking of each other. And it’s a way of releasing stress and dealing with it. But I was blessed to meet a man who was also in law enforcement. So we’re able to talk. I would come home from work and I would say, “Oh, my God. Just when I thought, I have seen everything that there is to see. You are not going to believe this case that just came across my desk today.”

Yeardley:  Right. And I guess this seems like an obvious question, but as were saying, in the 80s, there weren’t that many women in law enforcement. And even today, the scales are tipped more toward male officers. What was it like to be one of the few, perhaps only, women in your department?

Tracey:  Well, I have a story regarding that related to the Officer Harold case. So, the night that he was being arrested, he was at the police department, and my chief investigator called me and said, “Go down there. We’re about to arrest him.” And I get there, and one of the detectives there said to me, “What are you doing here?” Oh, yeah, they called you in to type the search warrant.

Zibby:  Shut up. What do you say to that?

Tracey:  I think I said, fuck you.


Tracey:  Yes. No, I’m not here to type the search warrant.

Yeardley:  Oh, my God.

Zibby:  [laughs] You mentioned at lunch that in the early 80s, you were actually pregnant while working for the DA. What was that like for you?

Tracey:  Well, we always went out in pairs whenever we would go out to either serve subpoenas, interview witnesses, prepare for trials, I would either go with the assistant DA who was getting ready to try the case, to talk to the witness, prepare them for the trial, or if were doing an investigation, I would go out with another criminal investigator from my office. Generally, they were males. So, here I was, big, pregnant, in one of those tent Muumuu dresses that were popular back in the late 80s.

Zibby:  They didn’t have any police uniforms for preggos.

Tracey:  They did not.


Tracey:  And so, we’d get there and we’d be talking, and then all of a sudden, the witness or the victim or whoever it was that were interviewing would say, “Oh, when is y’all’s baby due?” They thought we’re a married couple, and I guess they thought that the guy just brought his pregnant wife along on [Yeardley laughs] this interview or to get ready for trial. But, yeah, I got that more than once.

Yeardley:  Well, Tracey, thank you so much for sitting down with us today.

Zibby:  Yes, thank you. That was fascinating.

Yeardley: [ Small Town Dicks is produced by Zibby Allen and Yeardley Smith and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave.

Zibby:  This episode was edited by Soren Begin, Yeardley Smith, and Zibby Allen.

Yeardley:  Music for the show was composed by John Forest. Our associate producer is Erin Gaynor and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.

Zibby:  If you like what you hear and want to stay up to date with the show, head on over to and become our pal on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @smalltowndicks. We love hearing from our Small Town Fam, so hit us up.

Yeardley:  Yeah. And also, we have a YouTube channel where you can see trailers for past and forthcoming episodes and we’re part of Stitcher Premium now.

Zibby:  That’s right. If you choose to subscribe, you’ll be supporting our podcast. That way we can keep going to small towns across the country and bringing you the finest in rare, true, crime cases, told, as always, by the detectives who investigated them. Thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.

Yeardley:  Nobody’s better than you.

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