Photo by Robert D. Brozek via Pexels
Kelsey Smith?s murder first captured my attention on the show See No Evil on the Investigation Discovery channel. The show focuses on cases in which surveillance footage is available. In the case of Kelsey Smith, this footage was instrumental in solving her case.
Kelsey Smith was born on May 3, 1989 and lived in Overland Park, Kansas. She was 18 and had just graduated from high school. She was about to celebrate a six-month relationship with her boyfriend. She had a promising future.
On June 2, 2007, Kelsey took a trip to Target where she was shopping for a gift for her boyfriend. Unfortunately, she would not have the ability to give it to him.
While at the store, she spoke to her mother on the phone before going outside. She was last seen at 7:07 p.m. in the parking lot of the store at Quivira and 97th.
Greg Smith, Kelsey?s father, had worked in law enforcement for years. He grew suspicious when she did not return after her shopping trip that Sunday.
Four hours later, Kelsey?s Ford Crown Victoria was discovered outside the Oak Park Mall, near Macy?s. This was right across the street from the Target where she?d been shopping. Her belongings, including her phone, wallet, and purchases, were still inside the car.
Video Footage Emerges
Upon further inspection, video footage from Target showed someone forcing Kelsey into her car. Investigators had to slow down footage in order to see it because it happened so quickly.
Two hours later, footage shows Kelsey?s car returning. At about 9:17 p.m., a figure in a white shirt and dark pants left her vehicle in the mall parking lot and returned to the street. They could not determine if the figure was a male or female, but they did note a 1970’s-era truck leaving the lot shortly afterward.
After viewing the footage, detectives figured that somebody may have been watching her inside the store. They went back to Target?s tapes. Inside the store, they could see a white male, seemingly in his 20s, on the same aisles as Kelsey. He kept some distance, but it was clear he was watching her.
When Kelsey went to the cashier to check out, the man prepared to leave the store. At this time, they were able to get a good picture of him. It seemed like it was too much to be a coincidence. They released the man?s image to the media in the hopes of collecting tips. Unfortunately, most of the tips that came in were too general to be useful.
Later, detectives examined footage of Kelsey arriving at the store. Just moments prior, the Chevy pickup spotted in later footage had arrived. Authorities decided to release footage of the Chevy in hopes somebody would recognize it.
Authorities Inspect Kelsey?s Car
A team inspected Kelsey?s car for fingerprints. After they excluded everybody who had reason to be in the car, like Kelsey?s boyfriend and parents, they found one pair of unidentified prints on a seat belt.
Kelsey?s Body Is Found
The discovery of Kelsey?s body revealed that she had been killed the same evening she disappeared. Her body was found in Missouri near Longview Lake on June 6, 2007 thanks to cell phone pings that originated from the area on the day of her disappearance. She was found about 20 miles away from where she was abducted.
It took several days for authorities to find Kelsey because Verizon took four days to hand over phone records. They began searching the area when they could pinpoint the cell phone tower where the pings originated. It took 45 minutes to find her after that.
Upon examination, the cause of Kelsey?s death was strangulation. She had been choked with a belt.
A Tip Comes In
In the meantime, the public was still viewing the footage of the suspect and the questionable Chevy. One man believed he recognized the individual in the video as his neighbor. When he saw the footage of the truck, he felt this confirmed it. He called in a tip.
That neighbor was Edwin Roy ?Jack? Hall. He was 26-years-old and lived in Olathe. When authorities arrived to speak with him, he was in the process of leaving town with his wife and son for a vacation.
A Suspect Is Arrested & Charged
Police arrested Hall and charged him with first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping the next day. While the man had no record as an adult, he did have an assault on his juvenile record. He had assaulted another boy with a baseball bat.
Detectives could not link Hall to Kelsey personally, and they learned that he?d been adopted at age 7 but was returned to the system at 15 after threatening a family member.
When Hall was asked about his presence at the scene, he admitted he was there at the scene. He claimed he had no involvement with Kelsey?s abduction and murder, even though his fingerprints apparently matched those found in her car.
On June 7, Hall was arraigned. His bond was set at $5 million.
Justice For Kelsey
On August 1, Hall was indicted by a grand jury for murder, rape, and aggravated sodomy. He would be eligible for the death penalty, and the district attorney decided to seek it.
In an effort to avoid the death penalty, Hall accepted a plea agreement. He spoke about the incident, saying that he saw her arrive alone and followed her around. He grabbed his gun out of his truck and waited for her to put her things in her car. He threw her in the car. He apparently also claimed that he thought she was much younger, maybe around 12.
On July 23, 2008, Hall pleaded guilty to all four charges. On September 16, 2008, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Kelsey Smith Act
Since privacy laws had made it difficult for officers to locate Kelsey?s cell phone, an initiative was developed that would call on cell phone companies to ping phones if authorities could determine a subscriber was in danger. Many states have passed these kinds of laws.
Kelsey Smith planned to study veterinary medicine at Kansas State University. On the day she was killed, she was simply going about her business, doing things we all do.
Kelsey was described as responsible, outgoing, and the life of the party. She loved marching band, choir, and theater.