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The original item was published from 7/26/2013 9:32:00 AM to 1/11/2014 12:05:02 AM.

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Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on: July 10, 2013

[ARCHIVED] Man Charged with 1986 Tacoma Cold Case Homicide

TACOMA, WA – Today Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Christopher Leon Smith, 50, with Murder in the First Degree for the 1986 killing of Carol Davidson.

"Justice has been a long timing coming for Carol Davidson's family," said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "Detective Gene Miller of the Tacoma Police Department’s Cold Case Unit and Forensic Scientist Marion Clark of the Washington State Crime Lab were diligent and innovative. This is one of those few cases that actually played out as cases do on CSI and other television shows.”

Shortly after noon on August 30, 1986, Tacoma Police responded to an apartment complex in Tacoma. Police found Carol Davidson, 46, deceased inside her apartment. Ms. Davidson sustained blunt force trauma to the head, her hands were bound behind her back, and she was gagged. The medical examiner determined she died from strangulation. On the ground below her apartment window, police found some of the victim's belongings and a pack of Kool cigarettes.

The crime scene was forensically processed and biological evidence was recovered. With the limited scope of scientific techniques available at the time, the original investigators were unable to identify a suspect and the investigation was suspended.

In July of 2012, Tacoma Police created a Cold Case Unit, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice, to collaborate with the Prosecutor’s Office Homicide Unit. Detective Miller reopened the investigation, reviewed the evidence, and submitted biological samples to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab. A DNA profile was developed, and entered into the CODIS national DNA registry. The DNA profile matched the defendant whose DNA had been collected after his 2009 Pierce County convictions for Rape in the First Degree, Rape of a Child in the Second Degree, and Kidnapping.

In 1983 and 1984, Smith was a suspect in two separate Tacoma area rapes. Both victims reported that they had been physically assaulted before being raped and one said the assailant purchased a pack of Kool cigarettes while they were together. Smith was interviewed during those investigations and told a detective that he had consensual sex with both women, and that he smoked Kool cigarettes.

On November 26, 2012, Detectives Miller and Ryan Larsen spoke with the defendant at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, where he is serving a 50 year to life sentence for the 2009 sex offenses. Smith denied involvement in the murder of Carol Davidson, and declared that any DNA result that linked him to the crime is the result of a conspiracy.

The defendant will be arraigned July 26, 2013, at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom 270 of the County-City Building in Tacoma. Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

For more information, please contact Kelly Kelstrup at (253) 798-7792, [email protected].

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