Death row inmate claims to have killed six HUNTSVILLE, Texas (UPI) _ Police in several cit
Death row inmate claims to have killed six
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (UPI) _ Police in several cities said Thursday
they need more details before they can investigate a condemned killer's
claims he took part in six ritualistic murders along the East Coast.
James E. Smith told reporters Wednesday he was revealing his role
in the murders out of anger that his execution was stayed. The U.S.
Supreme Court blocked Smith's execution Tuesday, about six hours before
he was to die.
Smith's mother sought the stay, claiming her son is not mentally
competent to decide to end appeals of his death sentence.
Smith, who was given the death penalty for killing a Houston
insurance agent, said his earlier victims included a New York baby that
was purchased for $300 and then beheaded as a sacrifice to a voodoo god
between February and May 1978.
Smith has claimed to be a former voodoo priest, tarot card reader
and Hare Krishna follower.
Smith also said he killed a transient in New York City in January
1979, took part in the mutilation slayings of three people in
Orangeburg, S.C., in 1981 and killed a person in Miami in 1978.
Orangeburg County Sheriff C.R. Smith Jr. said Thursday his office
has no unsolved murders from 1981, and no evidence to indicate James
Smith's story is true.
"If what he said is the truth, he hid the bodies very well,
because we don't have anything that comes close to what he's
describing," the sheriff said.
"If they (Texas authorities) can give us something that sounds
like it has some validity, if we can get some details ... we'll
certainly investigate it."
Smith said the South Carolina victims were beheaded and their
hearts cut out. The slayings, he said, occurred between February and May
Detective Al Singleton of the Metro Dade County Police Department
said officials will look into Smith's claims, but it will be difficult
to verify them without more information.
Texas Department of Corrections spokesman Charles Brown said he
knew of no plans by Texas authorities to investigate Smith's claims
because the slayings allegedly occurred in other states.
Smith said the victims were killed so he would gain power from
voodoo gods. The victims were "babies, kids, whatever was available,"
"You think of them like animals," he said. "You're not
interested in their name. I'm only interested in their body being there
and their blood flowing."
The 35-year-old former cab driver said his mother, Alexis Hamilton
of Indianapolis, was manipulated by death penalty opponents upset that
he would not seek a stay of his execution.
"Look what you're trying to save," he said of himself. "I
certainly hope these bleeding-heart, anti-death penalty folks are happy.
They asked for it."
Smith admitted for the first time Wednesday his guilt in the March
1983 murder of Larry Don Rohus, 44, during a robbery at a Houston
insurance office. Smith said he did not intend to shoot Rohus, but did
so after the insurance agent made a "snide remark" after handing over
Although he was convicted and sentenced to die in Rohus's murder,
Smith previously had claimed he was innocent.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank