Tuesday, June 23, 2009

UNSOLVED: Charlene & Lyman Smith

If you have information on this case, please contact the Ventura Police Department at (805) 339-4343, or the Orange County Sheriff's Department at (714) 647-7000, or if you wish to remain anonymous, contact Ventura County Crime Stoppers, at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

Full size version of this article is below
under the "News Coverage" section

On March 13, 1980, Charlene Smith, 33, and Lyman Smith, 43, were found murdered in their home in Ventura by their 12 year old son, Gary Smith.

They were bludgeoned to death by a log from the fireplace. Their wrists and ankles were bound with drapery cord and an unusual Chinese knot was used on their wrists.

In 2001, California law enforcement linked DNA evidence from the
Original Night Stalker's crimes to DNA found from victims of an unidentified serial rapist dubbed the East Area Rapist in Northern California.

After 50 women were raped in the Sacramento area during the 1970's, citizens held a town meeting to discuss the East Area Rapist.  One particular incident that was discussed was the rape of a woman, whose boyfriend had dishes on his stomach put on by the rapist.  He was told that if he moved, the rattling of the dishes would alert him.

A man at the meeting stood up and insulted the male victims who allowed their women to be raped while trying to balance dishes on their stomach.

A few weeks later, this man's wife was raped while dishes were placed on his stomach.

Police now believe that the rapist was in attendance, although he has never been identified or apprehended.

Other Victims Linked by DNA

Keith & Patrice Harrington
Keith Harrington, 24, and Patrice Harrington, 27, were found bludgeoned to death in their home in the Niguel Shores gated community in Dana Point. Murdered August 19, 1980.

Manuela Witthuhn, 28, was murdered in her home in Irvine. Murdered February 5, 1981.

Janelle Lisa Cruz, 18, was found bludgeoned to death in her Irvine home. Murdered May 4, 1986.

Suspect Profile
Based on victims' descriptions of the East Area Rapist, the suspect who killed Lyman and Charlene Smith might have shown these characteristics in 1980:

  1. A white male in his 20s or early 30s.
  2. Medium height, husky build with a muscular upper body.
  3. A tattoo of a bull on either forearm.
  4. Blond or light brown hair.
  5. A high-pitched voice.
  6. Seemed middle class in his manners.
  7. Jogged with a white German shepherd.
  8. Drove a white '70s Pontiac.
  9. Mentioned he once lived in Sacramento, Davis, Contra Costa County or Goleta.
  10. Preferred bondage or sadomasochistic sexual practices.
  11. Showed proficiency in tying ornate knots.
  12. Gave gifts of jewelry.
  13. Showed unusual interest in the Smith murder investigation.
  14. Inexplicably was absent in the late hours of the night.
  15. Showed contempt for authority, tendency to blame others.

Suspect Information & Modus Operandi
Prepared by: Special Agent Leslie D'Ambrosia, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Miami Sergeant John Yarbrough, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, Homicide Bureau.
(includes photos & newspaper clippings)
Suspect Profile and MO
Includes a voice recording of the suspect

News Coverage
>Attorney , Wife Beaten to Death in Ventura Home (3/17/1980) The Press-Courier Archives
>Double Slaying Motive Sought (3/20/1980) The Press-Courier Archives
>DNA Test Link Slayings in 3 Counties (10/3/00)

Charlene & Lyman Smith mini-series by Colleen Cason
>Chapter 1: Between the sea and the stars (11/3/02)
Chapter 2: The two Charlenes (11/4/02)
Chapter 3: Terrible memories (11/5/02)
Chapter 4: 'Welcome to homicide' (11/6/02)
Chapter 5: The stuff of black binders (11/7/02)
Chapter 6: The partner (11/08/02)
Chapter 7: The boyfriend (11/09/02)
Chapter 8: 'Those things that abideth' (11/10/02)
Chapter 9: The biggest bull shippers (11/11/02)
Chapter 10: Everyone has a theory (11/12/02)
Chapter 11: This is so 'Dragnet' (11/13/02)
Chapter 12: Better than any other mall (11/14/02)
Chapter 13: 'Between this man and his God' (11/15/02)
Chapter 14: One day in May (11/16/02)
Chapter 15: The big, bad Wolfe (11/17/02)
Chapter 16: The waivers (11/18/02)
Chapter 17: The cul-de-sac killer (11/19/02)
Chapter 18: Street Justice (11/20/02)
Chapter 19: The odd couple (11/21/02)
Chapter 20: The People vs. Alsip (11/22/02)
Chapter 21: The accused takes the stand (11/23/02)
Chapter 22: The quiet man (11/24/02)
Chapter 23: The dead zone (11/25/02)
Chapter 24: The missing link (11/26/02)
Chapter 25: The Dragon's Lair (11/27/02)
Chapter 26: Waiting for a phone call (11/28/02)
Tech-savvy sleuths continue quest for Original Night Stalker (5/3/09)
Witnesses, Investigators & Suspects in the Case
Who's Who in the Smith Murder Case (11/12/02)
Where are they now? Updates on suspects, investigators and witnesses involved (11/28/02)
Photo Galleries
Photo of Charlene & Lyman Smith's home on High Point Drive in Ventura

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