Virginia Tech linebacker charged and arrested this Wednesday for the murder of Jerry Smith, a 40-year-old Blacksburg, Virginia resident. Etute, 18, is being held without bond in Montgomery County Jail on the charge of second-degree murder.

Law Enforcement Agencies Working on the Case

According to a statement on its website, the Blacksburg Police responded to a call for a welfare check at 119 North Main Street at 10:30 p.m. on June 1, where they found the victim and pronounced him dead.

The on-scene investigation led law enforcement to believe that Etute was a person of interest and later prompted his arrest, in what the police are labeling a homicide.

Smith and Etute were said to be “acquaintances,” though the extent of their relationship is unknown at the current time. Police are said to have identified and interviewed multiple witnesses.

In a Wednesday afternoon announcement by Virginia Tech, the university claimed that “Blacksburg Police continues to lead this ongoing investigation, and the university will assist law enforcement agencies working the case in any way it can.”

Virginia Tech Linebacker Charged with Murder

The Virginia Tech football team, led by Head Coach Justin Fuente, held a meeting Wednesday after learning of the arrest of Etute. The young linebacker has since been suspended indefinitely from the football team.

“Isi,” as he was known, had only been in Blacksburg since the beginning of the new year, joining the Hokies as an early enrollee for spring practice to compete for a spot on the roster.

Before arriving on campus, Etute had been a three-star linebacker recruit at Frank W. Cox High School in Virginia Beach, VA. Etute has also been offered scholarships by Liberty, West Virginia, and Vanderbilt, among others.
Virginia Tech Sign
The “Dead Period” for football recruiting had just ended at the start of the month, and many recruits and families of recruits had flocked to Blacksburg to check out a potential suitor for their athlete’s services.

The “Dead Period” restricts all in-person contact between coaches and affiliates of universities and recruits, and coaches need to come out swinging when the recruiting period opens back up.

Virginia Tech had also just reinstated safety Devon Hunter, who had pled guilty to domestic violence charges in September, on Tuesday afternoon. Hunter himself was a top-50 recruit in the class of 2017 and made twelve appearances with the Hokies from 2017-19.

Part of Hunter’s deal requires him to abstain from alcohol and drug usage for 24 months, perform 100 hours of community service, complete the Domestic Violence Alternatives Program, and avoid interaction with the victim.

Questions Raised Over Virginia Tech’s Program

With these two events coinciding at such a close time, the optics on Virginia Tech’s program are less than optimal at the current time.

Fans had already been unhappy with the team’s lack of productivity on the field, and now they will have the right to question the staff’s judgment of character, while potential recruits are likely to be turned off by the sequence of events.

This news of Etute’s arrest hits members of the Blacksburg community heavily, as the incident occurred near the heart of the downtown area. Blacksburg is known as a friendly area and is not used to these types of incidents occurring regularly.

Etute will continue to be held in confinement as police identify more witnesses and investigate all leads that are turned up, with the pressure to resolve the situation quickly reverberating throughout Virginia Tech and the surrounding area.

The murder of Jerry Smith is described as an “ongoing investigation”, and anyone with information concerning the case is encouraged to notify law enforcement. The Blacksburg Police Department may be reached directly by phone at 540-443-1400, or anonymously at 540-961-1819 or [email protected]