Real Name: Donald Edward Smith
Nicknames: Don Smith
Location: Twin Falls, Idaho
Date: May 11, 1987
Details: Fifty-five-year-old Don Smith lived in Hemet, California with his second wife. He had been feeling despondent because he was not well enough to work. He decided he would drive cross-country to visit relatives. He left Hemet on May 11, 1987, driving his pickup truck and towing a trailer. At the time, he was accompanied only by his two Labrador Retrievers. He was anxious to visit his daughter Brenda Walker in Idaho.
Brenda was Don's only child from his first marriage. For most of her life, she and her father had been kept apart. Brenda's parents had not gotten along well after their divorce. She had only seen her father once throughout her early life. However, after her mother died, she started searching for her father. When she was twenty-six and a divorced mother of two, she and Don were joyfully reunited. The two had a very happy relationship, except for when Don drank, as he was a recovering alcoholic. However, he did not do that often.
On May 12, the day after Don left Hemet, he arrived at the hospital where Brenda worked as a psychiatric nurse. By this time, an unidentified African-American male had joined him. The man entered the hospital while Don sat in the truck. The man asked for Brenda; however, the receptionist told him that she was not there. The man talked to her supervisor, who told him that she was on a fishing trip with friends. The supervisor met with Don and his companion in the parking lot. He noticed that Don was drunk. He gave the companion directions to Brenda's fishing spot; the man appeared to be familiar with the area.
Just fifteen miles away, Brenda and her friends had given up fishing and stopped by a saloon near the lake. A few minutes later, Don's companion entered the saloon. Shortly after that, Don entered as well. He and Brenda hugged; she soon realized that he was drunk. Because he was drunk, she was upset, so she decided to go to the restroom. When she came back to the bar, Don began to cry and talk about he wanted to die because he had cancer. His companion came out of the restroom but did not seem to acknowledge him. The companion then entered Don's truck and appeared to look disgusted.
As Don continued to cry and apologize to Brenda, she told him that he should leave, get a motel room, and sober up. Don suddenly became belligerent and asked to fight someone. When this happened, Brenda and her friends decided to leave. After a few minutes, he followed them outside. However, she left without speaking to him. She had no idea that this would be the last time she would see her father alive.
Two weeks later, in the desert outside of Twin Falls, Idaho, a couple out for their morning walk found the body of a man. Police were called to remove and identify the body. It appeared that the man had been thrown over the guardrail. Nearby, a wine bottle in a sack was found. The body was severely decomposed and carried no identification. It appeared to have been there for two weeks. The cause of death was determined to be two blows to the back of his head. It wouldn't be until police heard about an incident that had occurred the day prior that the man would be identified.
700 miles away in Denver, Colorado, at 2AM on May 16, 1987, two vehicles collided at an intersection; one driver abandoned his pickup truck and fled the scene. A few minutes later, the police arrived at the scene and completed a thorough search of the truck. Inside, they found a bloody jack handle and a room key for a local motel. They went to the motel and found that the driver of the truck was registered there under the name of "Larry Monroe". In his room, they found a pair of pants and a sweatshirt. Both were covered in blood. The truck that "Larry" was driving was traced to Donald Smith. Investigators learned that his wife had not heard from him in twelve days. This discovery, along with fingerprints and military records, led to the identification of the man found in Twin Falls as Don Smith.
Police began to piece together the events that led to Don's murder. On May 11, the day he left home, he ran into trouble with the trailer that he had been towing. He arranged to leave it with a local man in Las Vegas. Police theorize that Don picked up the hitchhiker soon after leaving Las Vegas. At some point during the trip, Don started drinking. On May 13, the day after he saw Brenda, he turned up in Park City, Utah. He called his sister in Vancouver, asking her to wire him money. That same day, he picked up $200; he was with a man who matched the description of his companion.
Police theorized that the man may have killed Don for the money. They believe that while Don let his dogs out, the man came from behind and killed him with a jack handle (which was later found in Don's truck). He dumped Don's body in the high desert, where it was found two weeks later. He then drove to Denver where the car collision occurred. The man has never been identified and Don's murder remains unsolved.
Suspects: The man named "Larry Monroe" is described as black, with rather light skin, 6'0", 180 pounds, and is today probably in his sixties (he was in his thirties in 1989). He may have once lived in the area of Blackfoot, Idaho. He has never been identified.
Extra Notes: The case was featured as a part of the March 1, 1989 episode.
Results: Unsolved. After the broadcast, more than 500 calls came in to the telecenter regarding Don's case. Another 250 calls came in when the segment was repeated. However, none of the leads panned out.
Sadly, Don's second wife Helen passed away in 1992.
- Don Smith on Unsolved.com
- T.F. victim is identified
- Police have suspect in Buhl murder case, release sketch
- Man's slaying still a mystery - Daughter waits for break
- TV will examine murder case
- Unsolved Mysteries films local segment
- Murder case is an unsolved Idaho mystery
- Local detectives stand by on TV show
- Getting away with murder - Valley killers often escape justice (Page 1) (Page 2)
- Don Smith at Find a Grave