FAIRHOPE, Alabama — Investigators with the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit believe that the two men shot and left on County Road 95 near Elberta last week were involved in a drug deal gone bad.
In a press conference held Tuesday at the Baldwin County Satellite Courthouse in Fairhope, officials announced that Antwon Montrex Smith, 37, of Pensacola, Florida, has been charged with capital murder in connection with the deaths of Ryan Fraizer and Joshua Carroll, both of Seattle, Washington.
Lt. Andre Reid with the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department, commander of the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit, said the two men were linemen who install cable for various cable companies in the area.
They were working in Louisiana when they were forced to evacuate with the threat of Hurricane Delta and decided to come back to the Pensacola area, a place where they had worked previously.
“They arrived here in Pensacola on the evening of Oct. 8, met up with co-workers and after a little bit of discussion, decided to go meet up with a drug associate,” Reid said. “That associate is who we’ve identified as Antwon Montrex Smith.”
During that meeting, Reid said, investigators believe that Smith did not “follow through with his end of the bargain” and some violent encounter took place inside and/or around Mr. Fraizer’s vehicle.
Fraizer and Carroll were both shot several times and left for dead on the side of the road on County Road 95 near Elberta, Reid said.
“We believe that if it did not happen on County Road 95, then it was very close by,” Reid said. “It definitely happened in Baldwin County.”
According to reports, the bodies of the two victims were discovered in the early morning hours of Oct. 9 in a rural area on County Road 95 near Fitzpatrick Road, located near the Elberta and Orange Beach Police Department’s jurisdictional line.
The person who discovered the bodies contacted the Elberta Police Department who conducted the initial investigation before calling the Baldwin County Major Crimes Unit.
“We believe Mr. Smith drove around Baldwin County for some time before leaving the area,” Reid said.
It was actually a dog discovered at the scene that belonged to one of the victims that led investigators to discover the identities of the victims, which led to the vehicle and eventually to Smith’s arrest in Mobile, Reid said.
“We worked for hours before we even knew who our victims were,” Reid said. “One of the victims had a dog and that dog had some identifying information that led us to the previous owner of the dog and the area where the dog was from. We matched that up with a partial name and slowly started to identify one of the victims. Once we got that done, things started to snowball. It’s hard to imagine, but that’s what it was.”
That information eventually led to a description of the vehicle owned by Fraizer. On Oct. 10, patrolmen with the Mobile Police Department spotted a vehicle matching the description of Fraizer’s vehicle which led to a high-speed chase on Stephens Road and Carstens Street.
“I want to thank those patrolmen who get up every day as we’re going to bed and do vital work in solving crimes in our area,” Reid said. “Without those patrolmen spotting the vehicle and discovering evidence still inside the vehicle, this would have been a much more difficult case to solve.”
After reportedly striking two vehicles, Smith was eventually arrested when the vehicle struck a wall. He was booked into the Mobile Metro Jail and charged with attempting to elude police, carrying a pistol without a permit, possession of a controlled substance (heroin), possession of marijuana, second degree, and receiving stolen property, first degree.
“What’s significant about that arrest is that they seized a firearm, drugs, cash and of course recovered our stolen vehicle,” Reid said. “Inside that vehicle was a significant amount of blood, blood stains, ammunition and other items of evidence that support this encounter that took place over here.”
Police also recovered several items reportedly stolen from the victims, including Fraizer’s wallet, Reid said. He also said investigators believe the gun recovered from the vehicle might have been the gun used in the shooting.
“We are still waiting for the autopsy report to determine if the guns match, but we do know that the gun recovered is the same caliber as the gun used,” he said. “We’re just going to have to wait for the autopsy report to determine if it’s a match.”
Reid said there is a lot of other evidence in the case that will be brought forth during the prosecution of the case.
“We’ve given you a lot of information. We just want you to know that there’s plenty of other evidence and information that I may not want to share with you today. I want to save some things for the courtroom and let our prosecutors handle that,” Reid said. “We do want to stress that our community is safe. When this first happened, we thought that it was an isolated incident and it was. A suspect is now in custody, so that person is off the street. Our work is not done, in fact I would say it’s just beginning.”
Reid said investigators remain out on the street collecting evidence.
“We believe that Mr. Smith may have tried to destroy some evidence, so that is something that we will be looking into, among other things,” Reid said. “Our focus from here on out will be to follow through and ensure justice is served.”
As of Tuesday, Smith remained in Mobile Metro Jail and will be returned to Baldwin County as soon as he bonds out, said chief assistant prosecutor Teresa Heinz, who was introduced by District Attorney Bob Wilters as the lead prosecutor in the case.
“Technically, he will have to make bond in Mobile,” she said. “There are some things we can do to expedite that.”
Once that happens, Hines said, Smith will be brought back to Baldwin County where he will be booked into the Baldwin County Corrections Facility on capital murder charges. He will then go before a circuit court judge where he will be given a bond hearing and an initial arraignment and will be set for a preliminary hearing.
“We are unsure at this time when that will be,” Hines said, “but it is in everyone’s best interest, and I think in his best interest, that it happens as soon as possible. He will have to bond out in Mobile but he’s not just going to be released on the street. We have a hold on him and he will be transferred to us as soon as he’s released from Mobile. That hold isn’t going anywhere.”
Also present at Tuesday’s press conference were members of the Crestview (Florida) Police Department.
According to Sgt. Joshua Grace with the criminal investigations department, Smith is wanted as a person of interest in the disappearance of Calandra Marie Stallworth, who was last seen in the Sandestin area on March 27, 2017.
Smith and Stallworth were in a relationship at the time, Grace said, and officials believe Smith was the last person to see Stallworth before her disappearance.
Soon after Stallworth was reported missing, Grace said, Smith was arrested by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department on drug charges and was in possession of Stallworth’s car at the time of his arrest.
Anyone may have information in that case is asked to contact the Crestview Police Department at 850-682-2055 or Crimestoppers at 850-863-8477.
Reid said he wanted to thank several agencies involved in the investigation, including the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigations Mobile Field office, the Mobile Police Department, in particular officers with the Third Precinct, robbery and homicide units, the ATF, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office, the Baldwin County District Attorney’s Office, the Baldwin County Coroner’s Office and members of the Elberta Police Department.
“Last and certainly not least I want to thank all the members of the Major Crimes Unit for their dedication and the time they put toward this case,” he said. “Your service is worthy of a commendation, however at this moment I can only offer you my sincerest appreciation.”
Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack said within six hours of notification, 28 Baldwin County law enforcement investigators were working the case, not including Federal investigators who worked the case.
“We really appreciate the cooperative spirit that is involved in solving a case like this,” he said. “We also want to say how much we appreciate the media who put out a lot of information that generated a lot of calls that went into help solving this case.”