Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex, Lies & Murder: The Pamela Smart Case

More "Red Flags"

After the murder

It was Pam Smart's demeanor as the grieving widow that just did not ring true for Detective Daniel Pelletier. At 28 years of age, he had already seen many people in the aftermath of tragedies. The Smart murder case was Pelletier's third investigation in his three years as a Derry detective, having spent the previous six years as a police officer. He felt very uncomfortable with Pam's reaction after the murder. It set off another series of red flags.

"From day one," he said, "she wasn't acting the grieving widow."

"She insisted on an immediate interview," Pelletier said, "so Charewicz and I took her to the PD [police department]. She said: 'This looks like a botched burglary. The first thing I saw was the speakers off the stand.'

"I remember looking at Barry, thinking:" the first thing she saw was the speakers? What about her husband on the floor?

"She said,'When I walked over to the body...'" Another red flag, but he still gave her the benefit of the doubt.

Pelletier cocked an eyebrow as he spoke her words. "Not 'my husband,' but 'the body.' Kind of strange, I thought, but maybe she's in shock."

Working with people in the aftermath of a crime, he would have seen many reactions. Everyone has their own style of grieving, with some crying and wailing, some stoic and silent, others simply throwing themselves into keeping busy. But in this case, Pam never lost her composure, seemingly in total control. It was even her idea to give an interview just one day after finding her husband's dead body.

The Derry Police Investigation Team, (left to right) Mike Raymond, Sgt. Vincent Byron, Captain Loring Jackson, Michael Surette, Dan Pelletier, Paul Lussier, and Sgt. Barry Charewicz (The Derry News)
The Derry Police Investigation Team, (left
to right) Mike Raymond, Sgt. Vincent Byron,
Captain Loring Jackson, Michael Surette,
Dan Pelletier, Paul Lussier, and Sgt.
Barry Charewicz (The Derry News)

Pamela also set off another alarm bell with her misplaced anxiety over the family pet. While the Derry police were processing the crime scene with the New Hampshire State Police Major Crimes Unit, she expressed over and over, to friends, to neighbors, to anyone who would listen, her concern for Halen. Even after it was obvious that Halen was safe, she kept saying," I wish they would tell me about my dog. I just want to know if he's all right."

But the last straw, the one that really set off Pelletier's alarm bells was two or three days later when he accompanied her to her condo to pick up some items, seeing that it was still a secured crime scene. The grieving widow nonchalantly walked on the blood soaked area of the carpet where Greg's head had lain. And not just one time, but repeatedly.

He recalled, "Finally, her mother covered it with a towel." But this did not deter Pam, as she continually stepped on the towel, while everyone else at the crime scene made a point of stepping around it.

The callousness that Pam showed was the biggest red flag of all. On May 2, just one day after the murder, several detectives met to discuss their initial findings. One detective commented, "You know, I think she did it."

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