LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - More than ten years ago, a Midlands mother-to-be was murdered. She was eight months pregnant and she may have been murdered because of that unborn baby.
Debra Ann Smith was the youngest of 12, the baby of her family. But while the 30-year-old was carrying her own baby, someone killed her.
It happened on January 29, 1996. Since then, Jessie Johnson has had the same memory of his little sister. "I always think about the last day I see her alive. It was on a Sunday. I drive a church van and she was standing downtown here on the telephone with that pretty smile she always have. That was the last time I seen her alive. And that flashes in my mind all the time."
Smith's body was found on Bozard Mill Road by a teenage boy. Deputies say she had been strangled and wrapped in a cloth.
Smith was eight months pregnant. The unborn child didn't survive.
The Lexington County Sheriff says they've been close to a suspect, but never had enough evidence to make an arrest.
However, investigators discovered one clue along the road. The sheriff believes it could hold the truth. Sheriff James Metts says, "Several days after body was found we found red clutch purse that was found at location of the body, we believe to be Ms. Smith's clutch purse."
Investigators say the unborn child may have been the motive for murder. Johnson says, "It was something that someone didn't want someone to find out about this baby. It could have been. But only that person knows and my sister knew but she took that along with her to her grave."
Smith took something else to her grave. Her baby boy, wrapped in a blue blanket in her arms.
Reported by Maggie Alexander