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Carlos arrives to work and finds his manager-boss dead in the walk-in freezer. He calls 911. Investigator Tracey arrives and begins to peel back the onion revealing a robbery and a vendetta.

Special Guest

DA 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 from Auburn University with a BS in Criminal Justice/ Law Enforcement. She attended 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: [00:00:01] 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.

[Small Town Dicks theme]

911 Female Responder: [00:00:16] 911

Carlos: [00:00:17] I just come to work. My manager, he’s dead. Somebody shot him.

911 Female Responder: [00:00:22] He’s shot?

Carlos: [00:00:23] He’s shot. He got a blood all over him.

Zibby: [00:00:25] So I’m looking at, [beep] and I don’t see any blood on him. And literally, the hairs on my arm in the back of my neck stood up.

Yeardley: [00:00:39] I’m Yeardley.

Zibby: [00:00:41] And I’m Zibby. We’re fascinated by true crime.

Yeardley: [00:00:44] So we invited our friends, Detectives Dan and Dave.

Zibby: [00:00:47] To sit down with us and share their most interesting cases.

Dan: [00:00:51] I’m Dan.

Dave: [00:00:52] And I’m Dave.

Dan: [00:00:53] We’re identical twins.

Dave: [00:00:54] And we’re detectives in Small Town, USA.

Dan: [00:00:55] Dave investigates sex crimes and child abuse.

Dave: [00:00:59] Dan investigates violent crimes. And together, we’ve worked on hundreds of cases, including assaults, robberies, murders, burglaries, sex abuse, and child abuse.

Dan: [00:01:09] Names, places, and certain details including relationships, have been altered to protect the privacy of the victims and their families. Though we 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.


Yeardley: [00:01:36] Today on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. Dave?

Dave: [00:01:41] Happy to be here.

Yeardley: [00:01:42] Detective Dan.

Dan: [00:01:43] Good afternoon.

Yeardley: [00:01:44] And we are beyond thrilled to welcome back a very special guest investigator Tracey.

Tracey: [00:01:50] Thanks for having me back. Glad to be back here.

Yeardley: [00:01:53] So Tracey, tell us how this case came to you.

Tracey: [00:01:57] Well, as a DA investigator, we take turns being on call, and we respond in my county to all homicides, police involved shootings, any major events in the county to assist the law enforcement agency that’s working the case. So this was a Monday morning. It was in 1998, and I was at the office, probably just getting my coffee, and firing up my computer, and logging on. My chief investigator came to me and said that the local police department closest to the courthouse had had a shooting that morning at a local restaurant nearby that many of us from the courthouse ate at regularly, including myself, and they needed some assistance interviewing the cook, who was the one who found the manager who had been murdered.

[00:02:56] So I went over to the restaurant, met with the assistant chief who was running the scene. He said that he was told by the cook that when he arrived at work that morning that he found the manager of the restaurant, Jeff, had been shot and killed in the cooler of the restaurant.

Yeardley: [00:03:19] [gasps] Is the cooler, a walking cooler, or is he put in like a lift the lid up kind of cooler?

Tracey: [00:03:24] No, it’s a big walk-in cooler.

Yeardley: [00:03:26] Okay.

Tracey: [00:03:27] So the assistant chief asked me to take the cook over to the police department and just get a written statement from him. Back in 1998, this particular police department didn’t have videotaping rooms that the larger departments had. It was a small agency. They just had little offices, and I literally took handwritten notes.

Zibby: [00:03:51] Would you record with a hand recorder, the audio at least?

Tracey: [00:03:54] At that time, I did not. I didn’t have one with me. I was told, “Just go and take a written statement from the cook.”

Yeardley: [00:04:01] And what’s the cook’s name?

Tracey: [00:04:03] Carlos. So I took Carlos over to the police department. I just grabbed an empty office and sat him down and he told me that he had been working at this particular restaurant for about three years and that Jeff was the manager of the restaurant. And then on Monday mornings, Jeff got into work early because over the weekend, no deposits were made at the bank. So there was large sums of money, and manager Jeff was in a hurry to count the money, the weekends proceeds, and get them to the bank. So he would come in early, earlier than the cooks, usually.

Zibby: [00:04:43] And was that a routine, or was this an exception?

Tracey: [00:04:45] No, this was a routine every Monday morning. So there was a lot of cash in a safe in the manager’s office. Carlos tells me that, when he got there that morning about 08:30, that Jeff, the manager, was already there, he was in the office counting the money. And already I’m thinking, “Wait a second, the assistant chief told me that Carlos had found Jeff already dead.” But as Dan and Dave can tell you, when you respond to a murder scene, you get all kinds of crazy information. Then it’s second hand, third hand, fourth hand, and sometimes things just get translated improperly. So at first, I’m just like, “Maybe I misunderstood.”

Zibby: [00:05:32] So if Carlos is now saying, in fact, Jeff was alive when he got to work, then how does he explain Jeff being murdered while he’s there at the restaurant?

Tracey: [00:05:42] Well, Carlos starts his work for the day, and he notices that there is water on the floor by the steam table. I’ve never worked in a restaurant, so I don’t know. But apparently, to keep food warm, they have a steam table. The steam table had leaked, so he went to get a mop. Now at this particular restaurant, it was in a strip shopping center. And behind all of the stores, including a movie theater, was a concrete walkway store room area right outside of the door that the employees of the restaurant used. They kept all their cleaning supplies in that particular hallway.

[00:06:23] So, he said that he walked into the hallway to get a mop to mop up the floor from the steam table water. And all of a sudden, he felt something pressed to his back. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he was told, “Don’t say anything. Don’t turn and look at me. Go back into the restaurant.” And that there were two males that were there in that hallway area waiting for him when he opened the door.

Yeardley: [00:06:55] To get the cleaning supplies.

Tracey: [00:06:57] Yes. So they walk him into the restaurant. They get manager, Jeff. They put them both in the walk-in cooler, and they are both knelt down, and manager Jeff is shot right in the back of the head at the base of his skull.

Yeardley: [00:07:16] So they execute Jeff right in front of Carlos, but they don’t kill Carlos?

Tracey: [00:07:21] Right. So now his story is totally changed.

Zibby: [00:07:24] And it’s an extreme story. I mean, that’s a lot of action.

Tracey: [00:07:28] A lot. So I’m looking at Carlos, and I don’t see any blood on him. When I asked him, I said, “Well, why don’t you have any blood on you?” He’s looking at his arms, and he’s looking at his clothes, and he just said, “I don’t know.” I said, “Well, why didn’t they shoot you?” And he said, “I don’t know.” I’m thinking, “Okay, the manager is executed. The cook is not.” And literally, the hairs on my arm, in the back of my neck stood up because I realized at that moment, “Oh, my gosh, Carlos either did this or was involved in it in some way. It was an inside job.”

Zibby: [00:08:13] Was Carlos visibly disturbed while he’s telling you this?

Tracey: [00:08:16] He was very distracted. He was fidgety. I would ask him a question, and he would kind of hem and haw, and take his time answering, and he would look up at the ceiling. I felt like he was trying to come up with answers. When I asked him to describe the two individuals that had done this, well, he didn’t know. They had on gloves. They had masks cut out of pantyhose. One of them had a curly black wig on top of the pantyhose. He couldn’t describe their skin color. Eventually, he said they were white males.

Zibby: [00:09:14] Man, so the more you probe, the worse he’s looking. What is going through your mind?

Tracey: [00:09:19] Well, number one, I need to get another detective here with me. We need to get him to the bigger police agency, where they have recording equipment that can record an interview. But here I am, just sitting in the room with him by myself. I don’t want to leave him because I’m afraid he’s going to bolt. But there was a secretary’s office just outside of this room that I was sitting in. I also didn’t want him to hear me talking to her, so I’m mouthing to her that I needed her to get in touch with the assistant chief and have someone come over here that there’s something wrong with the story. I’m mouthing and pointing, “I think he did it.” [Zibby giggles] And she says to me, “Did you know they found another one?”

Yeardley: [00:10:09] Huh.

Zibby: [00:10:09] Oh.

Tracey: [00:10:010] And I said, “What do you mean?” And she said, “There was a body in that back hallway that I described who turned out to be also a cook at the restaurant.”

Yeardley: [00:10:22] And what’s this cook’s name?

Tracey: [00:10:23] Rudy.


911 Male Responder: [00:10:28] [unintelligible [00:10:28]

Michelle: [00:10:29] Hey, this is Michelle with the county.

911 Male Responder: [00:10:31] Uh-huh.

Michelle: [00:10:31] I’ve got a call on the phone from [beep]. One of the managers just walked down, he found another manager shot in the neck. He doesn’t think he’s breathing.

911 Male Responder: [00:10:37] Is he okay?

Michelle: [00:10:40] We’ve got an ambulance on the way to check.

911 Male Responder: [00:10:42] Okay. On the way.

Tracey: [00:10:45] Rudy had been shot in the head and killed. He had a doughnut in his hand, he was just coming to work and he fell, and the doughnut was still there.

Yeardley: [00:10:55] Okay. So Tracey, let me just paint this picture for myself really. You’ve got Carlos sitting in this empty room with you and he’s unrestrained. You’ve just found out that now there are two murder victims and that maybe Carlos was involved. The only other person in this building at this little agency is a woman who’s an admin sitting at her desk. So what happens now?

Tracey: [00:11:21] We transport him to the police department that had the recording equipment after getting him some Burger King to eat. You don’t want to interview somebody who says, “Oh, well, I was hungry, and my blood sugar wasn’t right,” and all that. So we asked him if he wanted something to eat, he said he did. So we got him a hamburger and sat there with him in the Burger King.

Yeardley: [00:11:43] How bizarre to be taking a Burger King break with a suspect in a murder investigation who doesn’t yet know he’s a suspect?

Zibby: [00:11:52] When you do transport him to the bigger city office and you stop at Burger King, are you treating him like a suspect or are you treating him like somebody who’s helping the case still and you’re going to get him some food?

Tracey: [00:12:05] He’s a witness at this point and we’re treating him as a witness. Even though I had that feeling and I felt like we were going to hopefully get to a point where he admitted an involvement in it, at that point, he’s just a witness. So we were treating him as such.

Zibby: [00:12:22] Were you nervous or scared? What is that Burger King moment like? [chuckles]

Tracey: [00:12:26] I didn’t eat a hamburger, let me just say that. [Zibby laughs] I was not hungry. I was very nervous. He was not in handcuffs, he was free. Of course, I had another police detective with me. If he had bolted, we would have gotten him. But yeah, it was really uncomfortable to sit there. I was tapping my fingers on the table going, “Oh, my gosh, he’s going to eat this cheeseburger and every last French fry.”


Tracey: [00:12:51] I think he was probably stalling for time and trying to think while he was eating.

Zibby: [00:12:57] Was he talking?

Tracey: [00:12:58] No, we just sat there and watched him eat his burger.

Zibby: [00:13:01] Wow, what a bizarre scene.

Yeardley: [00:13:04] So once you get him to this bigger station, how does that interview go?

Tracey: [00:13:08] So another detective came with me, and we were recording at this point. Then his story is that, “Well, there was actually a third guy there too.” So it changed a little bit again. He drew me a little picture about how this all happened. I know the podcast viewers can’t see it, but I’ve got it right here, and it shows the back hallway, it shows the steam table and how everything happened.

Dave: [00:13:39] Are these your actual notes from that interview?

Tracey: [00:13:41] These are my actual notes from the interview.

Dave: [00:13:44] Good stuff.

Zibby: [00:13:45] So when he adds in now the memory of a third guy, is he saying, “Oh, I forgot about this too?” How do you even cover that up? Or, is he just flying by the seat of his pants and not so smooth?

Tracey: [00:13:57] He’s flying by the seat of his pants and we’re just letting him do it. We’re just letting him talk as much as he wants to talk.

Yeardley: [00:14:04] Is he suggesting all three were armed with guns?

Tracey: [00:14:07] He said he didn’t know. He said that he definitely knows there was one, but he might have seen two.

Dan: [00:14:14] So I’m assuming, while you’re interviewing Carlos, everyone else in your office is doing background stuff on Carlos, and the two murder victims, and anyone else that worked in that business?

Tracey: [00:14:24] Right. I’m getting Fed information. I’m going in and out of the room and being Fed updated information. What we learned was that Carlos had a brother named Jorge. Jorge had been a cook at the restaurant also and had been fired two weeks prior to the double murder. During the course of me talking to him, I asked him about his family. I was thinking to myself, “Okay, if he’s done this, who would he do this with? He would do it with potentially a family member, a brother.” So I’m asking him, “Tell me about yourself. Where are you from?” He was from El Salvador. I said, “Do you have any family here?” And he goes through this list of their names, and where they work, and then he’s got brothers that are all listed that are still in El Salvador, but he doesn’t say Jorge.

Yeardley: [00:15:27] Carlos doesn’t mention Jorge, and all of that.

Tracey: [00:15:29] He doesn’t mention Jorge at all. He leaves him out that he is a brother who had worked at the restaurant and hadn’t been fired two weeks prior. He failed to mention that part.

Dave: [00:15:42] Convenient.

Dan: [00:15:43] So Carlos’s story, or should I say stories, are grandiose. They’re starting to unravel it seems his lies are way too big, and he can’t back out of them now. So tell me the table’s turn in this interview at some point.

Tracey: [00:15:57] All right. So Carlos eventually admitted that he and his brother, Jorge, and a third individual named, Manny, had done this. It was supposed to only be a robbery. Jorge knew that there was going to be a lot of money in the office, and Carlos said nobody was supposed to get hurt. So what we think happened is that, when Carlos reported for work, manager, Jeff, was in the office counting the money. That part was true. Carlos, the cook, did report to work at 08:30. What he did was he propped open the back emergency door with a broom, so that the door was open.

[00:16:45] His brother Jorge came in. They took the manager, Jeff, to the walk-in cooler where Jorge shot him and killed him. They took the money. As they were leaving out that back exit door, cook, Rudy, was reporting to work with his doughnut in his hand. They realized that he knew them. They had all worked there. Carlos was still working there. Jorge had just been working there until two weeks prior. So he was shot and killed behind the restaurant.

Dave: [00:17:18] So he’s two minutes late to work, and they never pass each other, and he’s probably alive.

Tracey: [00:17:25] That’s correct. Again, Carlos says, “No one was supposed to get killed.”

Zibby: [00:17:29] But they came with guns. So how can you say no one was supposed to get hurt when you introduce a weapon into the plan?

Dave: [00:17:36] Well, a gun is a tool. It’s leverage.

Dan: [00:17:38] How do you control these guys? If you got multiple victims inside this business, the easiest way to control them is a gun.

Zibby: [00:17:46] Then don’t load it.

Dave: [00:17:47] What if they call you’re[?] bluff?

Zibby: [00:17:48] Well, if no one’s supposed to get hurt, then bluff is called and no one’s hurt.

Tracey: [00:17:52] But you’re thinking the way that you think and not the way someone who would commit an armed robbery and a murder thinks.

Zibby: [00:17:58] That’s true. I guess, I’m just responding to Carlos’s bullshit.

Dave: [00:18:02] Well, here’s what’s interesting is, we deal with robberies, say, a bank robbery where someone presents a note that says, “Give me all the money. I’ve got a gun in my pocket.” In those occasions where it truly is just a vanilla robbery, where they just want the money, they really don’t want to hurt anybody, we come across BB guns, airsoft guns, or no weapon at all. Somebody who actually has a gun, they’re not going to leave it unloaded. They’re going fully armed. If something bad happens, they care about their freedom more than they care about the other person’s life.

Dan: [00:18:35] If it’s not loaded, it’s just a paperweight.

Zibby: [00:18:37] Right.

Yeardley: [00:18:49] So once he confesses and the story is out, what’s Carlos like? Is he ever sorry that this happened?

Tracey: [00:18:57] The only sorrow that I saw was about Rudy’s death, the other cook. They worked together, were both from the same country, were friends. When he was informed another cook got shot and killed, he hung his head and his body slumped. He already knew because he was there, but I think he was upset about that. I don’t know that he was upset about manager, Jeff, other than no one was supposed to get hurt.

Yeardley: [00:19:29] So is he saying then that it was Jorge and Manny who shot and killed Jeff the manager, and Rudy the cook, and not him?

Tracey: [00:19:38] He blamed it, the whole thing on the third guy, Manny. He said, Manny was going to flee back to El Salvador with all the money. Eventually, America’s Most Wanted ran a story about the case and about Manny fleeing to El Salvador. There was a warrant for murder out for him.

John: [00:20:03] But there’s one more twist to come. Cops say, neither man pulled the trigger.

Cop: [00:20:09] During the course of our investigation, we also discovered that there was possibly a third suspect involved in this crime.

John: [00:20:16] Cops say [beep] has been charged as the gunman in this case, but he is still on the run.

Cop: [00:20:22] We have an obligation as police officers to take care of our community, and we’re not going to rest until all these suspects are brought to justice.

John: [00:20:30] Trial for [beep] starts this summer and the family of [beep] will be there. But for final justice, cops need your help to corral the third suspect.


Tracey: [00:20:41] About 13 years later, Manny was arrested. Our office did look into the case, and he had an alibi, and he had nothing to do with this robbery. These two brothers are trying to blame it on him, and the case was nolle prosequi, which means dismissed in legal language.

Zibby: [00:21:00] Oh, my God. So Manny wasn’t even there the morning of the murder?

Yeardley: [00:21:03] And yet, for 13 years, he had a warrant out for being a murderer.

Tracey: [00:21:08] That’s correct.

Yeardley: [00:21:09] Wow, that’s a lot of time. How do you keep a case alive that long?

Dave: [00:21:12] So warrants don’t go away ever.

Zibby: [00:21:15] Yeah.

Tracey: [00:21:15] Yeah.

Dan: [00:21:16] What a warrant does basically is it stops the clock on the statute of limitations.

Tracey: [00:21:22] Although, murder, there’s no statute.

Dan: [00:21:24] There’s no statute. But if you are working like a burglary and you’re starting to run up against, “Holy shit, the statute of limitations is going to expire,” if you can get a warrant, that stops the clock. It’s a timeout. “So now I’ve got a warrant for this guy and we’re good.”

Yeardley: [00:21:41] Okay. So you got a warrant out for Manny, who’s gone back to El Salvador for years.

Tracey: [00:21:47] For years, yes. He did get picked up coming back into the country. And again, eventually, it was determined he didn’t have anything to do with this and the case was dismissed.

Dave: [00:21:59] So this double murder happens. The police get notified. Who’s the 911 caller on this?

Tracey: [00:22:05] Carlos is the 911 caller.

Dave: [00:22:07] So they stuck around.

Tracey: [00:22:08] Yes.

911 Female Responder: [00:22:10] 911

Carlos: [00:22:11] I just come to work. My manager, he’s dead. Somebody shot him.

911 Female Responder: [00:22:15] He’s shot?

Carlos: [00:22:16] He’s shot. He’s got blood over him.

Dave: [00:22:19] It’s pretty bold. He’s just trying to be like, “Well, this is business as usual.” And it’s part of their story is that, “I showed up to work and these people were dead,” or “I showed up to work and while I’m dealing with something in the back, somebody slips in and now I’m a victim.” So they’re trying to get the eyes off of Carlos, and he’s going to basically play it cool.

Yeardley: [00:22:37] Like, hiding in plain sight.

Dave: [00:22:38] Right.

Tracey: [00:22:39] Correct.

Yeardley: [00:22:40] Tracey, you said that when you first interviewed Carlos and he said that he too had been asked to kneel in the freezer, and then you realized, “Wait a second, Jeff got his head blown off and you don’t have any blood on you.” So, if he doesn’t have any blood on him, where is Carlos–? Was he just standing behind his brother?

Tracey: [00:22:55] I think he was.

Dave: [00:22:57] And so is Jeff the one who fired Jorge?

Tracey: [00:23:00] Yes, Jeff did fire Jorge. So that was part of it too. He was angry at him. According to the witnesses that we talked to, he was making threats against Jeff for firing him, and made his intentions known that he was going to do this.

Zibby: [00:23:16] So it was Jorge who fired the gun and killed both men. That’s what you believe happened.

Tracey: [00:23:21] Right.

Dave: [00:23:22] Carlos has got it in his mind that nobody’s going to get hurt and we’re just here for the money. And his brother shoots someone in the back of the head, and that moment you go, “Oh, shit.” And then as you walk out, you encounter your coworker that you actually like, a fellow countryman, and Jorge shoots that guy too. What you must be thinking like, “What the fuck? Wonderful. Good job, brother.”

Tracey: [00:23:48] Yeah. “How am I going to get out of this one?” And I guess, his answer was to call 911 and pretend that he was a victim in this.

Zibby: [00:23:55] He just grabbed onto any story he could. It clearly wasn’t thought out.

Tracey: [00:24:00] Absolutely. Because by the time that I got him from the scene to the police department, which is literally almost across the street, his story was totally different. So I think he’s just sitting there running this over his head trying to come up with a better story.

Dan: [00:24:17] It’s what we run into is, when people are lying, their stories evolve, and all of a sudden you start getting more detail. It’s hard for them to keep track of it and they will also introduce other suspects. So in this case, we have Manny. Manny, all of a sudden, appears and now we’ve got another place we’re going to have to go look. They’re trying to throw you off the track, and trying to keep track of their lives at the same time. It’s very difficult.

[00:24:43] Most of the people that we’ve encountered in the homicide cases that we’ve had, their vision of this crime is where the headlights are hitting the road and it’s not out on the horizon on how they’re going to be able to manage all this information that they’re going to have to keep track of. They can’t do it.

Zibby: [00:24:58] Yeah, it sounds hectic.

Yeardley: [00:24:59] Did Carlos and Jorge have previous records or run-ins with the law?

Tracey: [00:25:04] They were not known to us. They were not frequent flyers. Carlos was actually married. I went to his house, talked to his wife. He had a lovely home. He was just a normal guy. I think his brother was the bad seed in that situation.

Zibby: [00:25:21] He was the ringleader.

Tracey: [00:25:22] Yes.

Dan: [00:25:23] Where do you find Jorge? What’s the initial interaction, like, when you run into Jorge?

Tracey: [00:25:30] He was really hard to find. Other investigators from my office, they went out and found him. I was at the police department when they brought him in, but I was not involved in the questioning of him.

Zibby: [00:25:42] Did Jorge and Carlos have anything to be gained by trying to pin it on Manny? In other words, were their sentences influenced by the notion that there’s this other guy who’s fled back to his homeland?

Tracey: [00:25:55] Oh, absolutely. That was their intention. We were going for the death penalty for Jorge. So if they could prove or make us think that they weren’t the actual shooters and cooperate and pin it on Manny, then their sentence could be reduced.

Yeardley: [00:26:14] And what were Carlos and Jorge sentenced to?

Tracey: [00:26:16] Carlos pled to 20 years to serve. Served every day of that 20 years, and just recently has been released, and he testified in the trial. Jorge did go to trial, and received the death penalty, which was later overturned, and so he’s serving life without parole.

Yeardley: [00:26:34] Do you keep track of when suspects you arrested get released from prison?

Tracey: [00:26:38] Well, my chief investigator [giggles] told me, “You need to know that he’s out.” I had a different name then. He also was illegal, so I think he’s been deported.

Zibby: [00:26:51] When you hear, you should know Carlos is out. Yes, your name is different now. But is there some part of you that’s nervous about that? Where does that live in you, if at all?

Tracey: [00:27:02] I’m not worried about him. I feel like he’s either been deported or on his way to being deported. We did have, recently in the state that I’m from, a case where some correctional officers were transporting a bus of inmates to the court. They didn’t, unfortunately, follow a protocol. They didn’t lock them in properly, and two of the inmates broke open the cage gate to get to the correctional officers and shot and killed, both of the correctional officers. The shooter in that case was a case that I worked. they carjacked someone and were on the run. My office did call me and say, “This was your case. This is your guy.” I did not leave my house for three days.

Yeardley: [00:27:52] Wow.

Zibby: [00:27:52] Really? And then at some point, how do you reconcile that and you leave and go back to work? Does it just sort of die down inside of you and you instinctively feel, “Okay, I’m cool”? Or, what is that transition like?

Tracey: [00:28:05] I don’t want to live my life in fear. I’m aware of my surroundings, but I don’t let what I did control my life. I’m not going to do that, then the bad guys win. So I’m always aware. I’m married to a federal agent, so I’m double protected. [laughs]

Zibby: [00:28:24] I was going to say between the two of you, I wouldn’t want to go near that house.

Tracey: [00:28:28] Yes. A personal note for me, the manager Jeff had gone to my high school. I knew him. I didn’t know him in high school, but I knew him from the restaurant, and I knew that we had gone to high school together. He used to take my sons up there all the time for chicken fingers because little kids love chicken fingers. When I talked to one of my sons that I was coming here to do this about this case, he said, “I remember him, and I remember going to that restaurant for chicken fingers.”

Yeardley: [00:29:00] Oh, that’s so sad.

Zibby: [00:29:01] How strange.

Dave: [00:29:02] How was Jeff’s family through this whole process?

Tracey: [00:29:05] They were devastated, obviously. Our office has a victim witness division that has been voted the number one in our state, and they really stepped up and took good care of this family through this process. But it changed their lives, and it was very devastating for them.

Jeff’s Father: [00:29:26] And she said to me, “Dad, this is difficult. There’s been a major problem and [beep] been shot. I said, “Well, how bad is it?” And I’m screaming at her. She said, “Dad, you better come see him in the hospital quick.” I said, “My son dead on the table, and I couldn’t even say goodbye to him.”

Tracey: [00:29:49] This was a young man who was on his way to living the rest of his life, and had become manager of this restaurant, and was just trying to make his way in the world. And so it was hard.

Dan: [00:30:01] And the same for Rudy?

Tracey: [00:30:02] Also the same for Rudy. Yes.

Yeardley: [00:30:05] Did you and the people who worked at the courthouse still frequent that restaurant after this murder?

Tracey: [00:30:11] No one ever went back there again.

Zibby: [00:30:14] Do we know how much money all said they actually would have walked away with?

Tracey: [00:30:18] If I’m remembering correctly, it was between $3,000 and $4,000.

Zibby: [00:30:23] Wow. That’s nothing.

Tracey: [00:30:24] Yeah. In the grand scheme of things, that’s nothing.

Zibby: [00:30:27] That is not life changing money.

Tracey: [00:30:29] No, not at all.

Dan: [00:30:30] But it was.

Zibby: [00:30:31] But it was.

Yeardley: [00:30:32] Tracey, thank you for sharing this case with us today. It’s been such a pleasure to have you back.

[00:30:40] Small Town Dicks is produced by Zibby Allen and Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave.

Zibby: [00:30:47] This episode was edited by Soren Begin, Yeardley Smith, and Zibby Allen.

Yeardley: [00:30:52] 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: [00:31:01] 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: [00:31:15] 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: [00:31:24] 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: [00:31:40] Nobody’s better than.

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