Home » Nacole Smith, 14: DNA Solves 1995 Rape & Murder Case
- Nacole Smith was sexually assaulted and murdered in 1995
- DNA later proved that her assailant also raped a teen in 2004
- Authorities confirmed the perpetrator's identity, but the news did not bring closure to his victims
A haunting case has finally reached resolution thanks to DNA and genealogy technology. It was on June 7, 1995, when Nacole Smith was making her way to school with her sister in northeast Atlanta. During their journey, Nacole realized she needed to go back home because she forgot a class assignment. She reportedly took a popular shortcut through some nearby woods but while there, she was “confronted by a man” who not only raped her, but shot her twice in the face.
Security guards working nearby heard the shots and when they ran toward the sounds of gunfire, they found young Nacole. She was quickly named because of the items in her bookbag. Her mother, Acquanellia Smith, identified her daughter at the funeral home. She told reporters that when she looked at Nacole’s face, she could see that the teen had been crying because there were dried tears.
Later, Acquanellia admitted that she heard those gunshots as well, as Nacole Smith wasn’t far from home when she was murdered. For decades, the crime went unsolved, but last year, a DNA test identified the perpetrator.
In 2002, Detective Vince Velazquez reportedly reopened Nacole’s case and while DNA was recovered back in 1995, there hadn’t been a ping on a match until 2004. That year, 13-year-old Betty Brown was raped in East Point, Georgia, about 15 to 20 minutes from Atlanta. This confirmed that whoever murdered Nacole was once again violently assaulting children.
After Velazquez retired in 2017, cold case Detective Scott Demeester took over and worked tirelessly with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s forensic lab to find a match. It was then that they learned the DNA profile belonged to 49-year-old
Kelvin Arnold. While the family of Nacole Smith, as well as Betty Brown, has learned who is responsible for the teen’s callous murder, the news didn’t bring the closure that they had hoped because Arnold died on August 29, 2021. He was in hospice due to kidney and liver failure.
“Today for me is a bittersweet moment,” Acquenellia Smith said during a press conference on Tuesday (January 4). “I never imagined this person would be deceased, so many unanswered questions I had for him that I can never ask and get answers, but I would never say it was closure for me because I will live with this pain for the rest of my life.”
Ret. Det. Velazquez added, “If you’ve ever seen a case that the Atlanta Police Department put any effort into, this was it. This case has not died.” Betty also spoke with the press and shared she was disappointed she was unable to confront the man who sexually assaulted her nearly two decades ago.
“I’m not okay with the situation on how long it took us to get here, but I’m happy that we are finally here and that he is no longer out there able to do the things that he did to me and Nacole and to others,” Betty said of her deceased attacker. “This is a bittersweet moment. I’m mad that I didn’t get that opportunity to face him.”
“This has been a part of my life that I had hidden for a while because I did not want to live in that pain anymore,” she added. “I’m so conflicted because, on one hand, I want to rise above and not let this control me, but on the other hand, I want his family to suffer, because he’s not here to suffer. I want them to feel the pain that my family has felt for years.”
Authorities reportedly stated that they have not been able to tie Arnold to any other crimes, and it has been reported that he didn’t have a criminal record. If you or anyone you know has information about Kelvin Arnold, please contact the Atlanta Police Department.
Please share this story about Nacole Smith and Betty Brown to spread awareness about this case. They are our sisters and their lives matter.
Help Publicize This Case:
Journalist. Activist. Abolitionist. Storyteller. OurBlackGirls.com IG: @xiErikaMarie | @OurBlackGirls on IG, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Spotify Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, & Anchor FM