Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex, Lies & Murder: The Pamela Smart Case

Metal Madness

"My skin crawled, I killed him. I'd do it again, if I thought that I could spend the rest of my life with her. She says we'll be together now, sitting alone in my empty cell."

Lyrics from Empty Cell Toronto rock band Rusty, 1997 album Sophomoric.

Pamela was pursuing a broadcast career, doing everything she could think of to attain that goal. She worked three jobs and still found time to organize a benefit promoting safe sex, even talking several bands into giving free performances. An academic leader as well, she received her BA in communications in 1988 in a little more than three years, with an accomplished 3.85 grade point average.

During her college radio days, Pam combined her passion for heavy metal music with her career aspirations. She hosted a one-night-a-week radio show at Florida State University that she called "Metal Madness," billing herself as the "Maiden of Metal." At least one listener was surprised to actually see the small-framed, fine-featured woman, the face behind the microphone, expecting a more outlandish looking woman.

Having set her sights on broadcasting, Pam was hired as media services director with the school board in the town of Hampton, near the coast south of Portsmouth. Although not exactly what she wanted, she believed that it was a stepping-stone to better things. Her responsibilities included distributing and producing educational videos for use in the school district, complete with her own secretary and student intern.

She also volunteered as adult facilitator with a local drug awareness program called Project Self-Esteem. All freshmen at Winnacunnet High School were expected to participate in the program. She was able to impress them with her interest in heavy metal music. "The kids never got much closer to one another as a result of the project," Sawicki explains, "but everyone looked up to Pam. Unlike most adults, she never appeared to be patronizing them. She spoke their language and enjoyed the same music they did. Rather than lecture them or run on about her glory days at Pinkerton, Pam instead spoke of meeting Eddie Van Halen and of getting backstage passes for heavy metal concerts."

Billy Flynn, one of the teenagers working on the project, became smitten with Pam, going out of his way to be helpful during the sessions. He also visited her every day at her office.

"The first time Pamela Smart blipped across Billy Flynn's radar screen," writes Sawicki, "was at Winnacunnet High School during a meeting for Project Self-Esteem discussion leaders. One of the guidance counselors introduced the petite SAU 21 media center director to the group and the 15-year-old's hormones kicked into gear. He turned to [his friend] Lattime and said softly, "I'm in love."

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