42-year-old Jimmie L. Crews, last local address of Pearl Street, Lake Hamilton, currently housed at the Coleman Federal Correctional Complex, Coleman Florida, was indicted by a Polk County Grand Jury for the 2008 murder of 19-year-old Michael Leonard Tramel Jr. of Tangerine Street Lake Hamilton. The indictment was unsealed on Tuesday, September 1, 2015.
Michael Tramel was found dead in an orange grove west of Phillips Way and north of Tangerine Drive near Lake Hamilton on Friday, September 19, 2008. An autopsy determined that Tramel died of gunshot wounds. The victim was last seen by his twin brother leaving the family’s Tangerine Street residence on the evening of September 18, 2008.
Through the investigation, detectives learned Tramel had said he was going to meet Jimmie Crews. At the time Crews was out on bond pending a Federal Indictment on drug charges.
Crews reported the location of Tramel’s body and gave conflicting statements early in the investigation naming two other men as the killers, however, detectives determined this information was false—both of the men Crews named had alibis. Crews provided inconsistent stories as to how he had obtained information about Tramel’s death. Investigating each version of what Crews described, detectives confirmed nothing Crews said was accurate.
Crews told detectives one key piece of information meant to implicate the two other men of the homicide: Crews told detectives the shoes worn by the killer could be found in a cooler behind the home of one of the men Crews attempted to implicate. Detectives located a pair of size 13 Nike tennis shoes in a cooler behind another Lake Hamilton residence. The tread pattern matched tread patterns located at the site of the homicide.
During the investigation, detectives learned Crews had a twin brother, Jamie Crews, who was serving a sentence in Florida State Prison. Detectives interviewed Jamie Crews who said he had left size 13 Nike tennis shoes matching the description of those found in the trunk of a car at his residence. When detectives attempted to confirm this information, it was learned the shoes were missing. DNA tests at the time showed DNA matching both Jimmie and Jamie Crews in the shoes.
Ultimately, new technology in DNA testing recently determined neither of the two subjects Jimmie Crews attempted to implicate had worn the shoes (their DNA was not found in the shoes, and DNA samples obtained were shown not to have been from them). Instead, DNA samples collected had a combination of Jamie’s and Jimmie’s DNA. Jamie Crews was already in prison at the time of the murder—he could not have committed the murder.
The case was presented to a Polk County Grand Jury in August 2015. The Grand Jury indicted Jimmie L. Crews for 1st degree murder of Michael Tramel. Tramel’s family has been notified of the indictment.
“Our detectives did an outstanding job in this case. The combination of modern DNA testing and outstanding investigative work has resulted in murder charges against a cold blooded killer. We hope this helps bring closure to Michael Tramel’s family. We look forward to bringing this case to trial and ultimately holding Jimmie Crews accountable for this killing.” –Grady Judd