This is Delmer Smith, who is responsible for a recent reign of terror on Florida’s Gulf Coast that left women from Venice to Bradenton terrified of violent home invasions, murder and rape:
Delmer Smith gave a DNA sample to the Feds 15 years ago, when he was incarcerated in Michigan on federal bank robbery charges. And then what did the Feds do? Well, in fairness, they were super busy not watching Phillip Garrido as he repeatedly raped and impregnated the child he was holding captive in his backyard.
So the feds apparently did nothing with Delmer Smith’s DNA. Now a slew of women have been raped, and at least one murdered, crimes that could have been easily prevented if the feds had done what they were supposed to do and entered Smith’s DNA into the appropriate database.
But they couldn’t be bothered, just like the states so often can’t be bothered, just like Florida couldn’t be bothered fifteen years ago when they let my rapist walk out of prison to commit more rapes of frail, elderly women because they didn’t bother to link him to other crimes using DNA from kits they were supposed to test, but didn’t.
In precisely the same neighborhoods Delmer just tore through: Sarasota, Venice, North Port.
This time, to be clear, it wasn’t the Florida courts that screwed up: it was federal authorities. Funny how they all screw up in precisely the same way, though: serial neglect of serial criminals who rape and kill again. How much do they screw up? Well, I’m understandably tuned in to this little piece of Florida’s West Coast, but it takes about fifteen minutes on Lexis-Nexus to find similar “mistakes” in every state. We are letting extremely violent criminals slip through the cracks, and nobody seems outraged about it: nobody seems to be trying to plug the many holes in the system, or even to try to figure out what those holes are.
What to do? Although police are usually the ones singled out when a serial offender is on the loose, their actions are rarely the reason recidivists are free. Blame the courts — from lax prosecutors to lenient judges, to the hash the defense bar has made of our criminal justice system. Also blame parole boards, and legislators and governors who refuse to fund prosecutions and prisons at realistic levels.
Finally, blame the activists who will do anything to get certain offenders out from behind bars, all the while banging the drum that “America is a prison state: we incarcerate too many people for too long. . .” Any cursory review of crime reports, arrests and convictions shows that precisely the opposite is true: we incarcerate too few people, and we let them go too soon.
People still routinely get a few months in jail for molesting a child, or probation for shooting someone. But how do we make this visible, when prosecutors and judges want to hide their actions, and reporters won’t report on it?
It’s Time for a “Guilty Project”
Failure to Update DNA Database
Delmer Smith: suspected in a dozen home invasions, several rapes, one or more murders, all thanks to the failure of federal authorities to enter his DNA profile in the CODIS database. Too bad the F.B.I. sent a profiler down to Florida tell the cops that the killer was probably a male with anger issues, instead of making sure CODIS (which is the FBI’s responsibility) was up to date. How many other violent offenders have slipped through the cracks in CODIS? Does anybody know?
Serial Judicial Leniency, Failures to Prosecute, Failures to Enforce Parole, Failure to Correct DNA Deception, Failure to Update DNA Database
Walter E. Ellis, arrested at least a dozen times, including two (or three) attempted murders; convicted of several serious crimes, including attempted murder; repeatedly released early, despite multiple parole violations; received merely three years for nearly killing a woman with a hammer; charges apparently dropped for attacking another women with a screwdriver . . . and Wisconsin authorities didn’t bother to get a DNA sample from Ellis at the time they discovered that the sample supposed to be his had been “donated” by another inmate, a child rapist. 12,000 other convict samples are currently missing from Wisconsin’s list.
Serial Judicial Leniency, Failure to Update DNA Database, Reliance on Inaccurate Profiling(?)
John Floyd Thomas, first convicted of rape in 1957, arrested multiple times, convicted of rape again, released early again, now suspected of killing as many as 30 elderly women, avoided giving a DNA sample when he was required to do so, apparently without any consequences. True Crime Report is attributing his ability to elude capture to inaccurate profiling indicating a white killer, but I’m not sure about that because there were surviving victims thought to be linked to the serial murders.
Where is the Outrage?
Prior to these belated DNA matches, the only one of these three men who served any substantial time in prison was Smith, and that was for robbing a bank, not assaulting a woman. Authorities in Milwaukee can’t even figure out what happened to one of Walter Ellis’ previous attempted murder charges for an attack on a woman.
Just trying to kill women still doesn’t count for much, it appears.
The flagrant acts of these men, and of thousands of others — the lack of consequences they experience that enables them to attack multiple female victims — all beg the question: why aren’t serial crimes targeting women counted as hate crimes against women?
Why aren’t the resources of the hate crimes movement — the public outrage, the state and federal money, the well-funded private opposition research, the media attention, the academic and activist imperatives — brought to bear on cases where the people being targeted are women?
The answer is shameful. Hate crimes leaders and opposition researchers don’t want their movement “distracted” by the the fact that women are far and away the most common category of victims targeted because of their identities. These activists want to keep the focus on the picture they are painting of America, on race and ethnicity and sexual orientation, so they don’t want their statistics “overwhelmed” by a whole bunch of woman victims.
Consequently, activists who otherwise fight to get certain crimes counted as hate crimes fight even harder to keep any serial crime against women from being counted as hate — as the media laps at their heels, quiescent as a warm gulf tide.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been a central player in this ugly little deception for more than a decade now, so don’t expect changes anytime soon, especially with journalists’ self-enforced code of silence.
However, to give Holder credit where credit is due, he does advocate expanding the federal DNA database, an unpopular position to take in the current administration.
There is a personal silver lining in the Delmer Smith case. The man who had the temerity and insight to finally put my rapist away for life is the same man who had the temerity and insight to catch Smith before he killed more women. It was a cognitive leap and real police work, apparently done by linking Smith to the sexual assaults after he got caught in an unrelated crime, a violent bar brawl. And then locking him up on federal parole violations until a DNA sample could be tracked down.
Thank you, Venice Police Captain Tom McNulty, for taking yet another bastard off the streets. That’s policing.
4 thoughts on “DNA Could Have Stopped Delmer Smith Before He Killed, But Nobody Cared Enough To Update the Federal Database”
Delmer Smith’s dna has finally been linked to my sister, Georgann Lee Smith’s, home after 2 years. The state attorney doesn’t feel there is enough evidence to charge him with her murder which I think is ridiculous. This monster terrorized women in Sarasota & Manatee county, robbing, raping, beating and then murdering. My sister Georgann was the first to be killed. He bludgeoned her to death with a baseball bat that she kept by her door for protection. Then a few months later, he murdered Kathleen Briles. I can’t have closure until I know that he’s been charged with my sisters killing as well. It is unfair to her memory and it’s all because of the Indiana Prison that failed to enter his DNA!
Do any of you know how I can get this to go Nationally?? Not only do I want Justice for my sister, but I want everyone in this country to know that our system is not doing their jobs and these robberies, beatings, rapings and killings could have been stopped after the first one!