BLACKSBURG, Va. – Search warrants show that the FBI is investigating to see if a former Virginia Tech football player charged with murder also committed a hate crime.
The warrants, which were unsealed Tuesday, were filed on June 28, 2021. They’re related to the May 31, 2021 death of a 40-year-old Blacksburg man, Jerry Smith.
Isimemen Etute, who prior to being charged with Smith’s murder, was a member of the Virginia Tech football team, has been indicted on a charge of second-degree murder.
Police said that during their investigation and in conversations with Etute, they learned that Etute and Smith matched on Tinder on April 10 and that Smith had been posing as a woman named “Angie.”
The two had a sexual encounter prior to Smith’s death.
On May 31, Etute went to Smith’s apartment and discovered that he was a man and not a woman, according to what he told the Blacksburg Police Department.
He told police that he used his cell phone’s flashlight to determine Smith’s gender.
After that, he told authorities how he hit Smith multiple times in different ways.
The FBI filed the warrants to search the cell phones and any corresponding data from three men with whom Etute was in contact following Smith’s death.
10 News has decided to not name any of them because none of them are charged with any crimes.
The warrant goes into details about the interviews Etute, as well each of the other three men, had with the Blacksburg Police Department.
Two of the men walked up to Smith’s apartment with Etute, however, both remained outside, according to their interviews with police.
When Etute left the apartment, both men with him told police that he was upset and one of Etute’s hands was bleeding.
One of the men also told authorities that Etute was crying when he left the apartment.
Prior to the warrants being unsealed, the United States filed three motions to seal the case, for 90 days each.
In the first motion, on June 29, the text below was the reasoning given for why this warrant needed to be sealed.
In support of this motion, and having considered the analysis set forth in United States v. Applebaum, 2013 WL 286230 (4th Cir. Jan. 25, 2013), the Government states that this matter remains pre-indictment and is part of ongoing investigation of a possible civil rights violation arising from a hate crime and related violence resulting in the death of Jerry Paul Smith. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are actively investigating these charges and expect to interview additional witnesses. If alerted to the factual information contained within the search warrant application and its related documents, witnesses of this investigation may destroy or tamper with other electronic and other evidence and/or notify confederates or modify their statements or testimony.Motion to Seal, dated June 29, 2021
The three motions to seal were signed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert S. Ballou on July 20, Oct. 4 and Dec. 27, 2021.
The reason for unsealing these documents Tuesday is because the final sealing order had expired, according to federal court records.
No charges have been filed against Etutue in connection with this investigation.
10 News has covered this case extensively. Below are previous articles related to this case:
- Former Virginia Tech football player indicted on murder charge (Posted Oct. 26, 2021)
- Former Virginia Tech football player charged with murder appears in court (Posted Sept. 23, 2021)
- Cause of death in Blacksburg homicide ruled blunt force (Posted June 4, 2021)