Ill. Deputies Use Cellphone after 9-1-1 Call to Locate Murder Suspect

Aug. 25, 2021
Peoria County sheriff's deputies "pinged" a cellphone following a 9-1-1 call to hunt down the suspect in the murder of a woman over the weekend.

An emergency 9-1-1 call and then the repeated "pinging" of a cellphone led authorities to make an arrest in the shooting death of a Peoria woman over the weekend.

That's what a Peoria County prosecutor told a judge during a court hearing Tuesday in Peoria County Circuit Court.

Joshua A. McGee, 35, of 1028 W. Virginia Ave., was ordered to be held on $1.5 million bond in connection with the shooting death of Ashley Tankersley. She was found in a ditch along U.S. Route 150 near Philander Chase Lane west of Kickapoo.

McGee faces two counts of first-degree murder in the woman's death. Both counts allege McGee "personally discharged" the gun, which is the legal mechanism to add an automatic 25 years onto whatever sentence he might get if convicted. Murder normally carries a 20-to-60-year prison range.

Assistant State's Attorney Dave Kenny said Peoria County Sheriff's Office deputies were notified by a 9-1-1 call around 1 a.m. Sunday that a person had been shot. When they arrived at the rural intersection, which is between Brimfield and Kickapoo, they found Tankersley.

Kenny said deputies then "pinged" the phone that made the 9-1-1 call and learned through a police database that it was McGee's phone. They talked to him several times over the next few hours, losing him occasionally but then picking him up again.

The signal, Kenny said, moved away from the initial crime scene, over to Morton and then down near a rest stop just north of Springfield. McGee's father was also at the rest stop, where he allegedly told state police that his son had told him he had done something very wrong, Kenny said.

Illinois State Police, Sangamon County sheriff's deputies and Springfield police officers converged on the location. McGee eventually surrendered himself early Sunday afternoon and was taken into custody as a person of interest in the case. He was later arrested in connection with the death.

A motive wasn't clear, Kenny said. The two had been together Saturday evening and had been out drinking with friends. At some point that night, Tankersley was exchanging messages with friends about possibly seeing a concert in the Bartonville area.

Those messages stopped about midnight, Kenny said.

Deputies obtained a warrant to search the car McGee was in, and found Tankersley's purse, her cellphone and a 9 mm pistol with two shell casings. However, no blood was found in the vehicle, Kenny said, so it was unclear where the shooting actually occurred.

Tankersley, a Peoria resident, sustained gunshot wounds on her torso and head, according to prosecutors. She died instantly, Peoria County Coroner Jamie Harwood said Monday after her autopsy.

Peoria County Judge Albert Purham Jr. set a Sept. 23 preliminary hearing for McGee, though it is likely a grand jury will hear the case before then.

McGee was convicted of two counts of aggravated battery in 2006 and drew a 46-month federal prison term after being convicted in an October 2013 case where he was charged with illegally having a .38-caliber handgun as a convicted felon.

Though arrested in July 2020 by Peoria police on charges of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon, no charges were ever brought in court, according to the state's attorney's office.

He has no felony convictions after the federal case, according to Peoria County court records.


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