Authorities are searching for a former youth soccer coach who is on the run after he was found guilty of sexual conduct with a minor and was recently spotted in Middle Tennessee.
Justin Smith was found guilty on eight counts including unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, two counts of sexual battery and two counts of sexual imposition.
He reportedly fled after tampering with his ankle device during a lunch break of his trial.
Smith has a nationwide warrant out for his arrest. On Oct. 31, he cut off his monitoring device and was first seen in the Lexington, Kentucky area.
Montgomery County detectives say financial records show Smith has been eating at Panera and Chili’s restaurants near Nashville and Murfreesboro, even using Uber to get around. Right now they are not sure if he is armed or presents a danger to the public, but they think he is headed further south.
Detective Isaiah Kellar of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office says, “Don’t approach him yourself but contact them. Let them know that he is a wanted fugitive and that he has a nationwide warrant for his arrest.”
Smith allegedly threw his electronic monitoring device into another vehicle in an attempt to throw off authorities. He is still on the loose, but a new sighting could help authorities track him down. Detective Kellar says, “Justin Smith actually fled farther south than just Lexington, Kentucky like we originally talked about.”
He was most recently spotted on surveillance video at a Walmart in the Nashville area, but Montgomery County detectives do not think he will stay put for long.
Detective Kellar says, “I believe he’s going to be on the run. He’s traveling from town to town, giving different names as far as aliases, using his regular name from Justin Smith to just J. Smith or Justin House. He’ll use that when he checks into the hotels.”
Detective Kellar says they are using advanced technology to try and track Smith’s movement, but he has kept a low profile so far. Security videos and some purchases have triggered alerts, allowing police to focus their search.
Detective Kellar says, “He’s believed to be using prepaid credit cards, cash, and also prepaid cellular telephones.”
Smith has been getting gas, eating at restaurants and buying basic essentials. Detectives are piecing together where he could go next.
Detective Kellar says, “He is going to basic convenience stores, Walmarts. We’ve tracked him two different restaurants, some of the restaurants he has frequented.”
Detective Kellar says Justin Smith’s family has been cooperative so far. He says Smith has reached out to them occasionally to let them know he’s ok, but so far has not told them where he is or where he’s going.
The coach was a part of the SWARM Soccer Club in Germantown and the victim was a minor, according to a press release from the Montgomery County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The prosecuting office said the offense did not occur at his former place of employment, which is Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services. The Board of Developmental Disabilities says he resigned from that position in July and no longer works there.
Smith began coaching the victim when she was eight years old.