GILMAN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Iroquois County Sheriff’s Office announced late Thursday evening that the search for a fugitive in Gilman is over.
Sergeant Eric Starkey said Joel Smith was arrested just after 11 p.m. on Thursday, ending a search that lasted 36 hours and involved over 75 members of law enforcement.
The search started at 11 a.m. on Wednesday when law enforcement was informed of a sexual assault that happened aboard an Amtrak train that was stopped at Gilman’s train station. Authorities learned the victim was a juvenile girl and identified Smith as the suspect. He had run away from the station by the time they arrived and the authorities launched a manhunt in the area.
After being on the run for almost a day, Smith was seen by two employees at K&H Truck Plaza when he walked into the store and bought a drink. Starkey said surveillance footage confirmed Smith was indeed there, but the employees lost sight of him after he left.
As law enforcement renewed and increased their efforts to find Smith following this sighting, a warrant for his arrest was issued and he was formally charged with criminal sexual assault.
Upon his arrest late Thursday evening, Smith was taken to the Iroquois County Jail. His bond was set at $2 million.
The search for Smith involved Sheriff’s deputies from Iroquois, Vermilion and Kankakee Counties, Illinois State Troopers, and members of the U.S. Marshals Service Fugitive Task Force. Starkey thanked several companies that aided in the search, inclduing Eastern Illini Electric Co-op, Gilman Fertilizer, Nutrien Ag and FS, as well as the businesses and people who provided law enforcement food and water throughout the search.