An abduction charge against Jeff Easley was certified to a Roanoke County grand jury Tuesday morning and will be heard on April First. A judge again refused to release Easley on bond, so he will remain in jail.
Easley is charged with the abduction of 12-year-old Brittany Smith. The two were found in a San Francisco park a week after they disappeared. Brittany was not called to testify in Tuesday morning's preliminary hearing.
Easley is a suspect in the murder of Brittany's mother, Tina Smith, but he has not been charged with that crime. Easley, Tina Smith and Brittany Smith lived together in the Glenvar area of Roanoke County. In court Tuesday morning, investigators testified that when they found Tina Smith's body on December 6th, her hands were swollen and she was bound with red, white and black cords. Jeff Easley and Brittany Smith were last seen on surveillance cameras December 3rd.
Brittany's father, Ben Smith, testified he did not give Easley permission to take the girl to California. When questioned by defense lawyers Ben Smith said he was not allowed to have contact with Brittany because of a protective order, though that order expired before her disappearance. Ben Smith is a police officer in South Boston. He admitted he was on administrative leave from the department before Brittany's abduction but did not say why. Prosecutors said they were not aware of the protective order. News7 has confirmed Ben Smith has since been reinstated with the South Boston Police Department.
Jeff Easley's mother was in the courtroom Tuesday morning. After being admonished by a deputy to stop talking, she left the courtroom, visibly upset. She could be heard arguing with sheriff's deputies outside the courtroom.