The Abduction of Carlie Brucia
Late on the morning of Thursday, Feb. 5, brother John Smith and Patricia Davis, their mother, paid a visit to Joe at Sarasota County Jail for a family meeting.
Joe Smith had not yet been charged with the murder, but John and the mother pressed him to come clean.
Over and over again, Patricia Davis looked her son in the eye and demanded, "Tell me where the girl is."
After repeated denials, he finally confessed.
"I really f up," Joe Smith whispered. He explained he had had a "far out" cocaine trip and didn't remember much of what had happened.
He admitted that he had "rough sex" with the childusing precisely the same phrase as Robert Chambers in the infamous Preppy Murder case in New York 20 years agoand that he may have killed her.
He said he could direct his mother and brother to the body, concealed at a spot not far from the site of the abduction.
But he warned them not to go to the authorities, hoping he could use the location of the body as a bargaining chip. The brothers resurrected a childhood code to use over the phone, with "Station C" used to mean the location of Carlie's body.
This all led to one of the more peculiar amateur investigations in the recent annals of American crime.
John Smith later said he decided to conduct the search because "I was curious to see if anything he said was accurate."
Following Joe Smith's directions, John Smith and their mother, Patricia Davis, drove that same afternoon to the Central Church of Christ, at 6221 Proctor Road, just off I-75 and within 2 miles of the abduction site.
John Smith, who at the time weighed nearly 300 pounds, and his mother tried to look inconspicuous as they strolled the church property for signs of an adolescent corpse"Station C."
When they failed to find anything, John and Joe Smith exchanged a series of phone calls that evening. During one conversation, Joe Smith suggested that John might be in line for the $50,000 reward if he found the body.
For a few crazy minutes, the brothers mulled over whether John could grab the money then designate it to benefit the killer's daughters.
But John Smith began to panic, believing that his phone conversations with his brother were being monitored. Remarkably, they weren't.