Neighbor who calls Justin Smith a once "normal man" is trying to process his sex crimes
DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF-WRGT) - After 45 days on the run, fugitive, Justin Smith, popped up in Florida. Police said it’s all thanks to a dating site. This is a major win for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. They have been searching for Smith since Halloween.
Ryan Callahan, who lives just a house down from former Germantown soccer coach, Justin smith, is having a hard time processing his neighbor’s crimes.
“From when I talked to the guy, it shocked me,” Callahan said. “He seemed like a total normal guy. He always seemed like a nice guy and always helped me when I needed to borrow something from his garage or whatever, but it’s kind of weird.”
In November, Smith was found guilty of 7 sex crime counts involving a minor. Authorities said the 14-year-old victim was one of the players smith coached for Swarm Soccer Club.
“His wife is super nice, his kids play with my kids, they’re great,” Callahan added. “So, I don’t know, it’s just shocking.”
During Smith's trial, investigators said Smith fled on his lunch break launching a nationwide man hunt.
“The resources that have went into this is crazy,” Montgomery County Chief Deputy, Rob Streck said. “We have sheriff’s departments and police offices all over the east coast running down leads for us.”
Surveillance photos of Smith checking into a Kentucky hotel started surfacing, but still no luck finding him until a potential date came along, though an online dating site.
“The great thing about how we caught him. it was a citizen,” Streck said. “It was a citizen in Florida that he had met on a dating service who did the right thing and did a little back ground on the internet.”
The woman then called the Okaloosa Sheriff’s Department in Florida. Shortly after that the sheriff’s department developed a plan luring Smith into custody.
Germantown residents can't believe a dating site is what blew Smith's cover.
“I think he’s stupid,” said Daniel Wade. “That the last thing you want to do when you’re on the run is basically put a digital tell on yourself. He must have not been thinking too much.”
Callahan said, “I kind of really feel bad for the family, but at the same time it’s like you never really know who you’re living next to sometimes. It’s weird. It’s weird is what it is.”
Police said when Smith was found, he had a bag full of cash and multiple cell phones on him. Smith may have an extradition hearing Monday and from there be brought back to Montgomery County.