Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Judith Smith with her husband, Jeff

Real Name: Judith Lois Bradford Smith
Nicknames: Judy
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date: April 10, 1997


Details: Fifty-year-old newlywed Judith "Judy" Smith was planning to go to Philadelphia with her husband of five months, Jeff, on a weekend trip for a pharmaceutical conference, when she forgot her ID at Boston's Logan International Airport on April 9, 1997. They then decided to travel separately and meet later that night. When they did, they went to their hotel room and made plans for the next day.
On April 10, Judy went sightseeing while Jeff went to the conference. She carried her belongings in her signature red backpack. That morning was the last time that he saw her alive. At 5:30pm, he came back to their hotel when he discovered that she was nowhere to be found. They were supposed to meet at that time, so he was concerned. After waiting for an hour, he began searching the route that she had taken that day while sightseeing. He soon notified the Philadelphia police and their children about her disappearance.
An immediate search began throughout the city. Jeff mailed missing flyers and hired three private investigators, but they could find no trace of Judy. However, several reported sightings of her did come up during the investigation. Witnesses saw a woman matching her description in Philadelphia several days after she vanished, apparently acting strange and disoriented. Other unconfirmed sightings placed her nearby in New Jersey. However, police were unable to locate her.
Then, on September 7, 1997, a man and his son hiking in the woods near Asheville, North Carolina discovered the skeletal remains of a woman who had been stabbed to death. They were identified as Judy's through dental records. However, a pair of Bolle's sunglasses and a blue backpack found with them were not hers. At first, nobody could not understand how she ended up in Asheville. She had only been to North Carolina twice but had not been to that part of the state before. However, some of her friends began to suggest that she may have left Philadelphia voluntarily and went there.
Authorities found that the clothes Judy was wearing suggested that she was hiking in the area at the time, not that she had been dumped there. Several shop owners reported talking to a "Judy from Boston" in Asheville after she vanished and a hotel clerk even remembered her staying at the hotel from April 10-12. None of the witnesses felt that there was anything wrong with her.
Police do not suspect Jeff in Judy's disappearance and death. He insists that they were in good terms with their marriage and that she met with foul play in Philadelphia. However, police believe that she may have planned her disappearance, and met with foul play while hiking near Asheville. Investigators believe that her killer is not native to North Carolina but may have ties to the area. He has never been identified and this case remains unsolved.
Suspects: Jeff has been ruled out as a suspect in Judy's disappearance. Authorities believe that the owner of the Bolle's sunglasses and blue backpack found with her remains is her killer, and that he has ties to the area where she was found. They have ruled out robbery as a motive; found at the scene was her wedding ring and $167 in cash.
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Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Jeff passed away in 2005. Authorities have looked into the possibility that serial killer Gary Michael Hilton was responsible for Judy's murder. Another one of his victims was found tied to a tree not far from where she was found. However, no other evidence has been found to link him to the crime.