Murder Cold Case 40-years old

Mike Seals - January 5, 2021 10:57 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – It was 40 years ago today that 21-year-old newlywed Tracey Neilson was savagely murdered in her Moore, Okla., apartment. January 5, 1981 was Tracey’s birthday and the OU student spent the morning running errands around Moore. Eyewitnesses put her home just before noon. Despite several friends and family calling to wish Tracey happy birthday, no one heard from her after noon.

At 5 o’clock, Jeff Neilson, Tracey’s husband of five months, found her dead inside their Jamestown Square apartment. She had been stabbed numerous times. The Moore Police Department responded to the scene and worked the case until the next day when the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) was requested to assist. Over the course of the past 40 years, thousands of leads have been followed, interviews conducted and evidence analyzed. Appeals have been made to the public to contact the OSBI or the Moore Police Department if anyone knows anything that can help solve this case. To date, the case is cold.

In 2015, the OSBI hosted a press conference and released information about a cable ticket book. The last ticket in the cable book is for work at Tracey’s home at 11:51 a.m. on the morning she was murdered. On the bottom left corner of the book is a box for the employee name and it has three letters written in the box. Agents have worked for decades to identify the owner of the ticket book to no avail. Also in 2015, information was shared at the press conference about Tracey’s missing keychain in hopes someone had seen it. The OSBI received numerous tips but nothing that has led to an arrest in Tracey’s case.

One of the best pieces of evidence in the case is a latent fingerprint that was left at the scene. Unfortunately, in the 1980s, matching latent prints to a suspect was time consuming and incredibly difficult, especially if there was no known suspect for comparison. Jeff Neilson’s family worked with the OSBI to educate the Oklahoma Legislature about the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS). AFIS can scan a national database latent prints for comparison much faster and with better accuracy than a manual search. In 1994, the legislature agreed to purchase the OSBI AFIS, which was dedicated to Tracey.

Tracey’s case is also featured on the OSBIs Cold Case Playing Cards. The cards are distributed through the Oklahoma Department of Corrections canteen. Prisoners purchase the playing decks and the hope is that while playing cards an inmate may recognize a case or the individual on the playing card. The cards are another way to generate leads in a case. Tracey’s case was included in the first deck of OSBI Playing Cards as the ace of spades.

On the anniversary of Tracey’s death, the OSBI is committed to seeking justice on her behalf. We also reflect on the countless cases that have been solved in her name because of the implementation of the OSBI’s AFIS.

If you have any information about Tracey’s death, please contact the OSBI at (800) 522-8017 or [email protected].



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