OSBI pursuing 34-year-old murder case
Ponca City Now - January 6, 2015 7:47 am
MOORE — Jan. 5, 1981, started as a happy day for Tracey Neilson. She was celebrating her 21st birthday that day. The OU student ran several errands in Moore that morning.
Eyewitnesses put her home just before noon. After noon, several friends and family called to wish her a happy birthday. She never answered the phone.
At 5 o’clock that evening, Jeff Neilson, Tracey’s husband of only five months, found her dead inside their apartment at the Jamestown Square Apartments in Moore. Tracey had been stabbed numerous times.
Moore police responded to the scene and began investigating. The next day, the Moore Police Department requested OSBI assistance with the case. During the next 34 years, dozens of OSBI agents would work on the case following more than 1,500 leads.
One of the best pieces of evidence in the case was a fingerprint. In the 1980s, matching latent prints was time consuming and extremely difficult without a suspect print to compare with the unknown print. In 1994, Jeff Neilson’s family helped OSBI convince Oklahoma legislators to pass a law to fund the state’s first Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
This system could scan a database full of latent prints searching for matching characteristics. We all had great hope this new fingerprint technology would identify that print. Sadly, to this day, no match has been made to that print. But AFIS has helped solve hundreds of violent crimes in Oklahoma.
In the past few years, the OSBI laboratory began a cold case initiative. This project had agents and criminalists looking through old cases to determine if evidence existed that new DNA technology could produce fresh leads.
Several items of evidence were recently tested – several more are in the process of testing. But the OSBI, in a news conference yesterday, asked for the public’s help. One piece of evidence could give this case new life.
For decades, agents have worked to identify the owner of a cable trouble assignment ticket book. The last ticket in the book is for work at Tracey’s home at 11:51 the morning she was murdered.
On the bottom left corner of the book is a box for the employee name. the OSBI wants to identify the three letters written in that box.
OSBI is also offering up to a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who killed Tracey. The Moore Police Department is putting in another $1,000 and Tracey’s family is offering an additional $5,000 for a total reward of up to $11,000.
If anyone has information relevant to this case, please call the OSBI hotline at 1-800-522-8017 or the Moore Police Department.