AUGUSTA — Leroy Herbert Smith III, accused of killing his father last weekend in the home they shared in Gardiner, yelled that he is a “political prisoner” after his first court appearance Thursday.
Smith, who was ordered to have a mental health evaluation, told investigators that he killed his father and then “filleted him and buried him in the woods because his dad sexually assaulted him his whole life,” says an affidavit by Maine State Police Detective Jonah C. O’Roak. There is no record of Leroy Herbert Smith Jr. on a sex offender registry in the United States.
The affidavit discloses grim details about the killing, saying Smith stabbed his father in the jugular vein, dismembered his body and spread the remains among 16 trash bags.
Smith, 24, was charged Tuesday with murdering Leroy Smith Jr., 56, then disposing of the body in a wooded area of Richmond.
Justice Donald Marden read the charge against Smith on Thursday and told him it carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Standing with Pam Ames, the attorney appointed to represent him in the case, Smith responded briefly to the judge’s questions by saying “correct” in a loud voice when asked his name and whether he understood the charges.
Marden ordered Smith held without bail. The long-haired, bearded Smith, in shackles and in a yellow jail uniform, did not enter a plea.
As he left the courtroom to return to the Kennebec County jail, Smith hollered to the assembled news media: “I’m a political prisoner held as a patient.” He then called out his Twitter nickname and referred to himself as “God” and “Lord.”
His Twitter profile Thursday morning appeared to show a photo of Smith giving an obscene hand gesture. His last tweets on the social media site, on Sunday, include “I have no magic!” and “… you have some spare time on your hands, and my father is dead (he is done writing songs for you most of the time).”
There also are several nonsensical tweets that suggest Smith is speaking as God.
Smith allegedly has referred to himself as God to Massachusetts and Maine police, and suggested he was affiliated with the Hells Angels.
Smith allegedly told police that he killed his father because of a history of sexual assault, a claim he made at least once on his Facebook page. Family members, citing a desire to not impede the police investigation, would not talk about the claims.
A written request for an interview with Smith at the jail was denied Thursday.
“In speaking with mental health personnel at the jail, it would not be in Mr. Smith’s best interests right now,” said Kennebec County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ryan Reardon.
Smith graduated from Algonquin (Mass.) Regional High School with honors in 2008, the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported Thursday.
Leroy Smith Jr.’s brother, Edward Smith of Northboro, Mass., told the newspaper that his nephew, Leroy Smith III, was kicked out of the home in Northboro that he shared with his mother, Linda Brigham, and her husband months ago. Smith lived briefly on his own in Westborough before getting into trouble and moving to Maine.
A woman who answered the phone at Brigham’s home Thursday would not comment.
Edward Smith told the Telegram that his brother “was a pretty good guy” who moved to Maine because he owed his ex-wife money and could pay her a little at a time. He said his brother wanted to help Leroy Smith III because he had been getting into trouble.
The men had lived together for a little more than a month when Leroy Smith Jr. discovered that his son suffered from mental illness, said Edward Smith.
Leroy Smith III was arrested Monday morning on a warrant citing a harassment charge in Massachusetts. He was banned from his apartment building in Westborough, Mass., last fall after he upset other tenants and the landlord, said Police Chief Alan Gordon. Smith reportedly set his guitar and amplifier on fire in the backyard because “he believed they were emitting evil music,” Gordon said.
Smith was served with a protection-from-harassment order on Oct. 29 and violated it on Oct. 30, Gordon said. A warrant was issued for his arrest when Smith failed to show up for his December court date.
After the initial protection order was issued, the Secret Service contacted police to say they wanted to question Smith about threats he allegedly made against President Obama. Gordon said the FBI had begun an investigation into the allegation.
On Thursday, Justice Marden ordered that Smith have an evaluation of his mental health, something supported by the defense and the prosecutor.
According to the affidavit filed in court, Smith told police that he stabbed his father in the head and neck and then used three knives to “dismember his father” – a Ginsu knife, an Asian-style knife and an unidentified third weapon. The state medical examiner found that the elder Smith was stabbed to death, and died of “sharp force trauma,” according to investigators.
Smith told police that he videotaped the killing and the FBI “told him to put a video of the event on YouTube” but he later deleted the video.
The younger Smith then cleaned up everything – even renting a carpet steamer – and took $1,463 from his father’s wallet, according to the affidavit.
Steve Marson, who owns River Road Variety on Route 24 in south Gardiner, two-tenths of a mile from the Smiths’ apartment on Cannard Street, said the younger Smith came into the store five times in a four-hour period Saturday.
After a police officer came into the store Monday to ask about the crime, Marson said, police reviewed the store’s security camera footage and cash register records from Saturday and found that Smith had bought multiple cleaning products.
Marson said, “He bought stuff you’d use to clean up messes – ammonia, bleach, paper towels, trash bags.”
Marson said the younger Smith occasionally came into the store. He was quiet some days, but that Saturday he chatted with the store’s clerks casually, “like nothing was wrong, like the average guy coming into the store, buying stuff.”
Marson said the elder Smith was a regular in the store, grabbing coffee and a breakfast sandwich every Monday through Friday, very early in the morning.
“He was a very hardworking guy, working and taking care of responsibilities,” Marson said. “It’s a sad situation.”
The steam cleaner, according to a police affidavit, didn’t come from Marson’s store. Smith told police it came from the Hannaford supermarket in Gardiner, about four miles away, and he walked there and back.
Marson said a customer said she saw Smith walking on Route 24, dragging the steam cleaner behind him.
On Sunday, Smith drove his father’s Jeep to Westbrook, where he flagged down a police officer and asked directions to Dreamers, a strip club that operated there briefly several years ago. The officer looked up Smith’s identification, found a report about the outstanding arrest warrant from Massachusetts and took him to the Cumberland County Jail.
At the jail, Smith “made excited utterances that he killed his father,” O’Roak’s affidavit says, and gave police directions on a map to find his father’s remains. When an initial search proved unsuccessful, Smith added that he had also discarded a coffee table and other furniture parts. Police said they found the furniture with what looked like blood stains.
Smith apologized to investigators for discarding furniture in the woods.
Police found body parts in 16 dark trash bags, and a T-shirt and other blood-stained clothing off Lincoln Street in Richmond, according to the affidavit. One of the first bags to be opened contained a jeans-clad human leg.
Friends of the elder Smith – and later police – had gone to the apartment looking for him last weekend, but the son told them his father had gone away and would return Monday.
Smith told police that he first discarded the body parts in a Dumpster outside the apartment, but retrieved them after realizing they had not been carted away. His climbing into and out of the Dumpster piqued the curiosity of neighbors, who told the Kennebec Journal that they saw him in the trash bin during a rainstorm on Sunday.
He told police that he put them into a vehicle and dumped the bags in Richmond. Smith told police he planned to return to bury the body on Monday.
Kennebec Journal Staff Writers Craig Crosby and Keith Edwards contributed to this report.