Dayton News, hcnonline.com
Chambers County, OH
Kevin Edison Smith
Fourteen years after the lifeless body of 13-year-old Krystal Jean Baker was discovered lying beneath the Trinity River Bridge on Interstate 10 on March 5, 1996, police have charged 44-year-old Kevin Edison Smith with her murder.
Baker had been sexually assaulted and strangled. She had last been seen alive by her grandmother a few hours earlier in Texas City, Texas. Upon the discovery of her body, the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office became the lead investigating agency in the case.
Chambers County was assisted at the time by several other agencies, including the Texas City Police Department and the Texas Rangers. Evidence was collected at the crime scene, but no suspects were identified at the time.
According to a press release from Chambers County Sheriff Joe LaRive, advances in DNA testing, which were not available at the time of Baker’s murder, have led to a match with Smith.
In February 2009, Chambers County Sheriff’s Office Evidence Officer Sherry Willcox re-submitted DNA evidence from Krystal’s cold case murder to the Texas Department of Public Safety Crime Lab in Austin, Texas. In December 2009, she submitted the DNA once again.
One month later, on Jan. 14, 2010, Livonia, La. police arrested Smith on a drug charge. A sample of Smith’s DNA was placed on file in a national data base as part of his arrest.
On Sept. 15, 2010, Willcox was informed that Smith’s DNA from the Louisiana arrest had been matched to the DNA evidence recovered at the scene of Baker’s murder.
Based on that evidence, an arrest warrant was issued for Smith, charging him with murder. Smith was located in Groves, Texas, and arrested while at work on Sept. 22, 2010.
He was booked into the Chambers County Jail, with bond set at $1,000,000.00. A search warrant was then obtained, and a second DNA sample was obtained from Smith. That sample was tested against the evidence from the murder scene for confirmation.
On Oct. 1, 2010, DPS Crime Lab sent confirmation that the DNA from the evidence at Krystal Jean Baker’s murder scene was a positive match to the DNA sample taken from Smith after his arrest on the murder charge.
Chambers County District Attorney Cheryl Lieck anticipates that the case will be presented to the grand jury as a capital murder by the end of the month. Investigator Brad Moon is the lead detective in the case.
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