Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex, Lies & Murder: The Pamela Smart Case

Picture Perfect

Pam & Greg's wedding photo (AP)
Pam & Greg's wedding photo

Newlyweds Gregory and Pamela Smart appeared to be the model American couple. Pam at one time described her life with Greg as "picture perfect," epitomizing the promise of a wonderful future. A great catch, free-spirited and fun loving, Greg was devoted to his perky 23-year-old bride Pamela Ann Smart, née Wojas. They even had a cute little quirky thing in common, spelling their nicknames in a unique nonsensical way: Pamela signed her nickname "Pame," pronounced Pammy, and Gregory wrote his as "Gregg", playfully adding the extra "g" as a child.

They settled in their quiet, peaceful hometown of Derry. Starting off their new life together, they moved into an upscale residential area, a ring of two-story condominiums on Misty Morning Drive. They rented a squeaky clean, new condo complete with contemporary furniture, including a white leather couch and attractive decor, two vehicles, and a small dog, Halen, named after the rock band Van Halen. Greg, one of three sons, lived only a block away from his parents.

Although not sentimental, Greg was a good man, looking forward to having children. He proudly bragged to his parents about how Pam would be a wonderful mother for their future children, if the way she treated their little Shih-Tzu was any indicator. How she fussed over the little creature, cooking him scrumptious tidbits for dinner, taking him for numerous walks around their complex, and protecting him from any sort of disturbances.

In reality, however, Pamela Smart looked after her own best interests. Born in Miami, Florida on August 16th, 1967, Pamela readily admits her egocentricity: "I'm definitely the typical Leo," she said. "You know, walk in, have to be the center of everything. Everywhere I go, I'm always attracting attention for some reason or another. I'm loud, very outgoing, and stuff." The second of three children, with a sister six years older and a brother three years younger, Pam was close to her mother. She had a strained relationship with her father. Her father worked as a commercial airline pilot and her mother as a stenographer. A great organizer, Pam had been working since she was 13, and with her enthusiasm and sense of humour she was very popular, even cheerleading for both basketball and football teams while in school.

Above all, Pamela liked to maintain control of herself and of her surroundings. She compulsively organized her clothing in color-coordinated groupings, even neatly folding her dirty laundry into separate hampers for darks and whites. She also organized her life that way, becoming upset when her tight schedule was disrupted.

Pam Smart, pinup pose (AP)
Pam Smart, pinup pose (AP)

Approaching their twenties, Pam and Greg hit it off immediately at a New Year's Eve party at the end of 1986, dating exclusively about a month later. They both shared a passion for heavy metal music. Greg even strummed on a guitar. That was part of what drew Pam to Greg. His 5-foot 10-inch, 170-pound frame, toned from hiking, skiing and fishing, with his baby face was very appealing. But it was his long curly shoulder-length locks that Pam adored. In contrast, Pam's petite frame, china-doll face and vivacious personality attracted Greg.

But the trouble started soon after their wedding. Greg began to grow up. He became more conservative, having decided to work with the same company as his father did as an insurance salesman, and his ambition paid off. He created a whole new image. Even his dedication to rock music had declined, although he still enjoyed good equipment, like the expensive speakers in his Toyota pickup truck, and he still enjoyed heavy metal music. There was no longer such an intense interest anymore. Instead he was becoming an accomplished saleman, spending his recreational time with his friends.

The shocker for Pam came when Greg cut his shoulder-length hair. Her initial attraction to him was his long hair, looking like the rock star Jon Bon Jovi. Pam now thought Gregg looked more like a New England yuppie.

Their picture perfect marriage was only a façade and a mere seven months into the marriage Pam and Greg began having serious problems in their relationship. Nearing their first anniversary, Greg confessed to Pam that he was having an affair. But then Greg had confided in his parents his plans for a party to celebrate their first anniversary, just a week later, and then planned to fly to Florida. "If there's anything Pam really loves, it's lying on the beach," said Greg. "She's a real sun bunny."

From then on, however, every time they got into an argument, Pam brought up the affair. "I didn't feel as important anymore," Pam would later testify. "Obviously it affected my trust."

Unbeknownst to Greg, having more passion for her career, Pamela wanted out of the marriage.

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