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Norwalk Police Look To Get Suspect In Cold Case Murder Of Popular Resident

Police are looking for help in the cold case murder of Jake Keels who was killed on Aug. 17, 1996.
Police are looking for help in the cold case murder of Jake Keels who was killed on Aug. 17, 1996. Photo Credit: Norwalk Police Department/Facebook
Jesse Bailey, who is serving a life sentence for kidnapping and murder, is the main suspect in the murder.
Jesse Bailey, who is serving a life sentence for kidnapping and murder, is the main suspect in the murder. Photo Credit: Norwalk Police Department/Facebook

NORWALK, Conn. -- For years, Norwalk police have been sure of who killed a popular Norwalk man who was known for running the local "street numbers." Now they need help finding a second person involved who can help nail the suspected killer.

On Aug. 17, 1996, Jake Keels, 63, was found dead inside his home at 153 W. Cedar St. by his nephew Jerome Butler. Butler immediately called police, who found that Keels had died from blunt force trauma and stab wounds, said Norwalk police Lt. Art Weisgerber of the Cold Case Unit.

Keels was well-liked and known to be a generous man often helping out people with money. Keels ran the daily “street numbers” and was known to carry cash. The motive for the crime is believed to be robbery because some of Keels’ jewelry was missing and his wallet was tossed on a cabinet in the apartment, Weisgerber said. No cash was found at the scene, he said.

The original investigation identified Jesse Bailey as a person of interest, after several witnesses provided information and statements that Bailey had cash and jewelry on the morning Keels was killed in the area of “The Hill” of Carlton Court and had made comments about robbing Keels.

Bailey was interviewed and provided an alibi for the night of Aug. 16 into Aug. 17. There was a lack of sufficient probable cause for an arrest warrant, police said. Subsequently in 1998, Bailey was arrested along with Deric Frank for the kidnapping and murder of Shaneika Price after her body was discovered in her burned vehicle in the Bronx, N.Y.

In 2014, Weisgerber began to review the Keels homicide case and examined the evidence. Some evidence was sent to the Connecticut Forensic Laboratory for updated testing, especially evidence used in the murder or found in the apartment that did not fit in the scene.

The results for some of the evidence showed a DNA match for Bailey and contradicted statements he made during the original investigation. In December 2014, Weisgerber and another officer went to the Federal Correctional Center in Otisville, N.Y., to collect a DNA sample from Bailey, who is serving a life sentence for the kidnapping and murder of Price.

But Bailey refused to be interviewed at that time. Based upon a review of the case, it is believed that Bailey may have been assisted by a second person who let him into Keels’ apartment for the robbery, Weisgerber said.

"We are looking for this person to come forward with their information and explain the circumstances in which they went to Keels’ apartment," Weisgerber said. "We are also looking for any other person with intimate knowledge of this crime or knowledge concerning the jewelry stolen during this crime to come forward with information that will complete the murder investigation."

The case is currently under review by the Stamford State's Attorney's Office.

Anybody with information is asked to contact Weisgerber of the Cold Case Unit at 203-854-3028 or aweisgerber@norwalkct.org . Anonymous tips can be sent through the Norwalk police website at: www.norwalkpd.com .

Anonymous text tips can be submitted by typing “NPD” into the text field, followed by the message and sending it to CRIMES (274637) .

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