Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sex, Lies & Murder: The Pamela Smart Case

To Die For

Pam's message couldn't be simpler. Love me, kill my husband. Reluctantly, Billy agreed to kill Greg, all the while believing that this would keep her near. Twice, Billy aborted attempts to kill Greg. Pam was furious, berating him and threatening to break-up.

"If you loved me, you'd do this!" she screamed at him, he later told the jury.

"I told her I did love her."

"That's when I started getting serious about it," Billy would testify, "because I thought that if I do something like not go up or anything again, she's gonna leave me and that's gonna be it. So this is the time that I really started talking to J.R. and Pete about it."

She told him that May 1st would be his last chance, what with Greg's late appointments that night and her busy with a school board meeting. Pam even agreed to pay them from the insurance money that she would collect.

Meanwhile, Pam and Greg's so-called "picture perfect" marriage continued disintegrating. Complete strangers began to witness the strain in their relationship, although their family and closest friends did not know yet. The couple was spending more and more time apart and the tension in their marriage began to show. Cecelia Pierce later testified about a telephone conversation that she overheard: "She was saying something about getting a divorce and then they started fighting over who was gonna take the dog and the furniture and everything. And then she said, 'Fine, take the dog' and hung up."

By April, Greg was coming home more often to an empty house, eating alone. "Around the time of an attempt on his life, he told a long-time friend," writes Sawicki, "he had felt a god-awful chill of danger as he walked into the empty condominium. Something unexplainable was just wrong. He turned around and left."

The plan to kill Greg was simple enough. Although numerous discussions took place between Billy, J.R., and Pete, in time, they settled with Pam's basic plan. That plan included the boys wearing dark clothes, Billy tying his long hair back, parking by the shopping plaza and Pam leaving the cellar door open, as well as the rear doors for Bill and Pete to enter the condominium and to ransack it, staging it to look like a burglary and to take anything, including electronic equipment and jewelry. Englade lists the three prohibitions that Bill instructed his friends to follow:

  • Don't turn on any lights. "Pam says Gregg is a real wimpif he sees a light on, he won't come inside," said Bill.
  • Don't hurt the dog. Put him in the basement so he doesn't have to witness the murder. "She doesn't want Halen to be traumatized."
  • Use a gun rather than a knife because a knife is too messy. She doesn't want blood all over the white leather couch."

At some point Pam asked the teens how she should act when she "discovered" Greg's body that night, whether she should scream, or call for help.

One of the boys told her, "Just act natural."

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