Saturday, January 24, 2009

Murder Confession - 41 Years Later

CNN reports on the story of a lady in Virginia who confessed to killing two women nearly 42 years ago. She explained that she'd shot the women because they had taunted her for being a lesbian.
Sharron Diane Crawford Smith, 60, confessed in a November 28 interview to shooting the women at a Staunton ice cream store in 1967, authorities said.

Smith was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Constance Smootz Hevener, 19, and Hevener's 20-year-old sister-in-law, Carolyn Hevener Perry, according to CNN affiliate WVIR.

But health problems forced a postponement of a December court date, WVIR said, and Smith, who had heart and kidney problems, died January 19.

I couldn't help notice the similarity between this story and the one we recently discussed that took place in Florida. In that case I had thought there might have been an element of gay romance between shooter and victim, but amazingly a fellow student who was personally acquainted with the actors commented that that was not the case.

The story of Sharron Smith though, is not that of a spurned lover, but rather one of a bully-victim lashing out.

In keeping with my long-standing tradition of blaming the inanimate object instead of the person, I couldn't help but notice this:

In a transcript of the police interview, Smith told police she and the women worked at High's Ice Cream. The night of the shooting, she went to the store to tell the women she could not work the next day and took her .25-caliber pistol with her.

"I was just going to tell them that I couldn't work and one thing led to another."

I blame THE AVAILIBILITY OF GUNS, can everyone hear me? I don't blame the gun, nor do I fully blame her. I also blame the society which teaches a young girl to carry a gun to a confrontation; that is an extremely poor education.

The story contains some questions about what exactly happened to the murder weapon. It seems she turned it over to someone on the police force shortly after the crime, who may have covered up for her. The gun was then turned over to another policeman in 1981, but they're all dead, so it may never be known what really happened.

What's your opinion? Is it possible for someone to commit murder once and go on to lead a crime free life ever after? How common is that? Usually we justify the harsh sentences handed out to the killers, even the death penalty, based upon the theory that once a killer always a killer. But does a case like this argue for a Statute of Limitations on murder?

What do you think could have motivated her to confess all these years later? Does something like this stay on a person's conscience? Don't we find ways to bury these things and never look at them again?

Please feel free to leave a comment.


  1. Mike,

    I read this and thought about it for a while.
    I blame THE AVAILIBILITY OF GUNS, can everyone hear me? I don't blame the gun, nor do I fully blame her.

    I would like to rephrase it to represent what I think, note this is what I think only, what you are really trying to say.

    I blame the AVAILABILITY of CHOICE

    If guns aren't available, then people won't have to make a choice about whether or not to use them.
    If guns aren't available, then people won't have to make a choice about committing a crime with them.

    Honestly, when you boil it down that is what your arguments appear to me. You want to take away people's right to decide whether or not to do the right thing.

    The woman in your story is the only one to blame for the murders. The bullying, the intimidation lies at the feet of the two dead women.

    But in the end, the person holding the gun made a choice. She made a choice to carry the firearm, she made a choice to fire not once but at least twice.

    You want to take away her right to choose, even to choose to commit a crime....and I resent that.

    Liberty is dangerous not everyone will do the right thing but the alternative is frightening. People trying to protect me and others for "our own good", limiting what we can eat (transfats ban), what we can smoke (cigarettes, marijuana), what we can drive (hybrids, air bags, helmet laws)...every aspect of our lives controlled so we can't make a wrong decision.

    The availability of guns is an excuse. My choices, made daily since I carry, have never resulted in a death. Not even an assault, but you want to take away the freedom to choose. Whether or not I have a gun should be my choice, not yours or anyone else. I am, like every adult, capable of accepting the consequences of my decisions. If I make the wrong decision it is called breaking the law.

    Stop trying to protect the world, you can't. Let the people make their own decisions, stop trying to do it for them in the guise of "gun control".

    I fully expect you'll disagree but please consider what I've said carefully. If I'm wrong, tell me but also tell me how, because that is honestly how I see it now.

  2. Maybe she knew she was not likely to live much longer and wanted to clear her conscience and repent before death.

    She could've done damage without a gun, if provoked sufficiently --though granted, a gun is easier to use impulsively against 2 people and perhaps faster to kill with than knives or duct-tape or pillows with which to smother.

    But the gun really wasn't the problem.

  3. Bob and Barb, Sorry but I can't agree. This case is a perfect one to illustrate my point that in a spur-of-the-moment killing, the availability and quick access of the gun is crucial. Only in the pre-meditated situation would it not matter, only then would the killer use a different weapon or whatever. In a case like this, had she not been carrying for whatever reason, what would have happened? Maybe nothing.

  4. Mike,

    Hate to deconstruct your comment, but it's the best way

    Bob and Barb, Sorry but I can't agree. This case is a perfect one to illustrate my point that in a spur-of-the-moment killing,

    Spur of the moment killing? How do you figure that...she was at home but wanted to confront them - Decision point #1. Before she left home, she located -Decision point #2, picked up Decision point #3, and put her firearm in her purse or on her person Decision point #4.

    She walked, drove, took a bus to the store - Decision point #5. She entered the store - Decision point #6. She argued with her "tormentors" Decision point #7. At some point she pulled the firearm Decision Point #8. She fired at person number 1 - Decision point #9. She fired at the second person Decision point #10. She left the store without calling the police Decision point #11.

    Exactly at what point did it become a spur of the moment decision?

    Why not blame the car or the bus that took her there? If she had to walk, she might have cooled down. Hey there is an idea; let's stop drive by kilings by banning cars!! Imagine the lives that could be saved.

    Why not blame the ice cream store? If there wasn't a store, they might not have been able to tease her so easily.

    Why not blame the shoes or clothing...if there wasn't such an easy availability of clothing, she might have had to wait to wash her clothes or borrow some, etc.

    Why not blame any inanimate object that someone kills with? I notice you don't say a word about the recent killings in Belgium.
    At least two children and one adult are dead after a knife-wielding man attacked a creche in Belgium today.

    Are you going to blame the easy availability of knives now?

    How about the easy availability of child care? If people kept their children at home, there wouldn't have been as many for him to kill.

    Why not focus on the one aspect that really makes a difference Mike? THE PERSON COMMITTING THE CRIME.

    the availability and quick access of the gun is crucial. Only in the pre-meditated situation would it not matter, only then would the killer use a different weapon or whatever. In a case like this, had she not been carrying for whatever reason, what would have happened? Maybe nothing.

    January 25, 2009 2:50

  5. Mike,

    Another chunk out of your easy availability argument via Alphecca

    PERSPECTIVE: Gun show sales not big source of problems

    Recently, the state Crime Commission deadlocked over whether to recommend closing the so-called gun-show loophole. The issue has become a perennial at the General Assembly, which is considering the matter once again this year. Once again, legislators should vote no.

    Licensed firearms dealers — those who buy and sell guns as a business — are required to conduct background checks on prospective buyers.

    The “loophole” in question refers to the fact that individuals selling guns from their own private collection do not have to — either within gun-show venues, or in the parking lot, or in their own homes. ...

    Private sales among the hunters and target-shooting enthusiasts who frequent gun shows are simply not a significant source of weapons used in crimes. Gun shows, then, are not the real issue — except to those who recoil viscerally at the sight of large numbers of firearms in one place.

    Read the whole thing.

  6. Bob, Like most statistics, I can't believe you put so much value in this one. Only 1% comes from gun shows. 95% comes from illegal sources, I think it said. Well here's how that can easily be misleading. The 1% refers to guns confiscated at crime scenes which have a provable connection to a gun show in their very last transaction. In other words, they might have come from a gun show, been sold a couple times among criminals, then taken by the police. They're part of the 95% but actually should have increased the 1%. Also the 95% must include many that came from gun shows but due to the "loophole" there's no record of the transaction. Isn't that what the "loophole" refers to?

  7. Mike,

    Do you have any evidence that contradicts the FBI's information?

    Or is it just wild supposition and your opinion?

    Verifiable evidence has been present, repeatedly, and still you cling to what you think without providing evidence to the contrary.

    Show some evidence for your claims.

  8. A thought --if the two victims had been armed or knew of a gun in the store, at least one might have had time to defend herself and survive after seeing the other one shot. Or if someone KNOWS that their targets are armed, maybe that knowledge would be a deterrent against all the decisions Bob notes had to be made before shooting someone.

  9. +1 Barb. There's a reason why so many of these crazy mass-shootings happen in areas where guns are banned. If somebody thinks they may be quickly stopped in their crime they choose to do other things.

    This applies to homicidial maniacs like Sueng Cho, and the Columbine Kids....but also to gang-land urban predators.

    Stealing my wallet, or raping my wife isn't worth the risk of a hollow-point in their brainpan so they do other things.

  10. Bob, I'm afraid some of the stats you keep throwing out are suspect. I explained why I find the 1% suspicious. Of all the guns confiscated at crime scenes, 1% are proven to have come from gun shows. Maybe another 30% or 40% also come from gun shows, but it's not provable. And you wonder why I keep discounting all your stats? I'm just taking them with a grain of salt, a big one. Besides, when the Brady Bunch produce more sensible stats, you guys say they're lying.

  11. So 'Just 'Cause! is a legitimate debate point?


    Mike have you considered that it isn't lawful gun owners that are selling these extra 40-50% (Why not 70%) gunshow guns to criminals.

    In fact I believe Sasquatch is buying and selling guns!

    We can keep all the gun laws the same, hell we can repeal them. Just require the army to exterminate or imprison in zoos the Bigfoots of America.

  12. Weer'd,

    Could it be ex-pats living in Italy buying and selling those firearms?

    Probably transporting them in packages of Italian bread. Always figured those long loaves of bread could hide "assault weapons".

  13. Could be, Bob. But my "logic" points to the Chupacabra.

    NOW WAIT! Chupacabra can swim and are big enugh to carry itallian bread stuffed with carbines.


  14. Weer'd,

    You've done it. Also explains the illegal immigration issue, the drug smuggling into America and all those full autos going into Mexico.

    Great Work Sir.