Minister helps build murder case against Bothell man
Susann Smith was attacked while she was sleeping, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Craig Matheson said in court Friday.
Detectives have linked Alan Smith, 37, to the scene by forensic evidence, including footprints and shoeprints left in his wife's blood, Matheson said. The killing appears motivated by hatred, the prosecutor added.
Smith's bail was set at $1 million Friday in Everett District Court.
A key break in the case came Tuesday when detectives were contacted by a local minister who met Smith in recent weeks.
Based on an earlier conversation, the man said he had expected Smith already would have confessed to detectives.
The minister told investigators that he was a supportive friend to Smith and their conversations did not take place under circumstances that he believed were protected by religious confidentiality.
He said Smith was seeking spiritual guidance, and was baptized in Puget Sound near Alki Beach a few days ago, according to a 38-page police affidavit.
Smith allegedly told the minister that he felt lost, trapped, like he was "walking off the ledge," the affidavit said. That's when Smith reportedly admitted killing his wife. The minister told police he left the baptism ceremony convinced Smith was preparing for arrest.
Susann Smith, 37, was found beaten and stabbed to death on Feb. 12 at her home in Bothell.
Alan Smith was arrested Thursday for investigation of first-degree murder.
In the months since the killing, Bothell police quietly have been building a case. Last week, police obtained a court order that allowed an expert from Canada to compare Smith's feet with bloody footprints left at the killing scene. The expert concluded they are a likely match.
Police allege that Smith used the Internet, TV and his cellphone to research criminal cases, including how DNA testing and forensic investigations work.
He reportedly also was researching extradition laws, flights to South America and how to obtain a fake passport.
In recent weeks, Smith took up with a woman named Love Thai, 32. She has been sharing details of their relationship with TV news reporters and via social media. Thai also reportedly told people the pair were planning to leave the country.
The Smiths' two young children were placed in protective custody after the killing.
Susann Smith was sleeping in the home's master bedroom when she was attacked, Matheson said. She was beaten and stabbed and then dragged into the bathroom, court papers show.
Her body then was placed in the bathtub. The killer filled the bath and held her under water. Water was found in her lungs, and drowning was listed as a factor in her death.
An autopsy also documented more than 22 individual head injuries, including a fatal skull fracture.
Around the time his wife died, receipts and surveillance footage from various stores allegedly document Smith buying latex gloves, disposable shoe covers, plastic-type coveralls and gardening sandals.
The fabric pattern of the coveralls reportedly matched a blood smear on the bathtub. The sandals' sole pattern reportedly matched a bloody shoeprint at the scene.
No fingerprints were found at the home. The sandals weren't recovered.
Police also seized Smith's personal electronics, including his GPS device. The device's activity log reportedly shows that he drove by his wife's home at times when he'd told police he was nowhere nearby.
Investigators also obtained a bicycle that Smith had purchased and later denied owning. Detectives believe the bicycle may have been used as the getaway vehicle from the scene. Alan Smith's neighbors turned the bike over to police after reportedly seeing it being left unlocked at various places in and around the apartment complex.
Smith had been living in the apartment about a mile and a half from his wife's home. He moved back into their house in April, a decision that upset the neighbors.
Police were called to the house multiple times in the weeks since, including once when Thai reportedly was sun-bathing naked outside, and another time when the pair were found having sex on the front yard.
Smith and Thai also reportedly tried to join a motorcycle club but were denied membership due to the ongoing homicide investigation, the affidavit said. Club members told police Smith became angry after he was told he wouldn't be admitted, and that he went into the parking lot and started "jumping up in the air kicking in the air spinning around."
Court papers show the Smiths' divorce was contentious, and they were fighting over custody of their children.
Alan Smith's colleagues and other people who know him have told police he was angry and often spoke of his marital struggles. He lost a divorce court hearing on Jan. 25.
Susann Smith was last seen alive by neighbors Feb. 10. The day before, she threw a "Carnival"-themed party for her children.
Police believe she was killed in the early morning of Feb. 11.
Her body was found the next day, when her colleagues called police because she hadn't shown up for work.
Officials had to use dental records to confirm her identity in part due to the severity of her wounds.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org
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