Real Name: Dennis Keith Smith
Aliases: None Known
Wanted For: Murder
Missing Since: November 1995
Details: On June 7, 1982, five-year-old Vancouver, Washington resident Dustin Johnson said goodbye to his mother Patricia and went to stay with his father for a weekend custody visit. What he did not know was that it was the last time he would see her alive. Over the weekend, she mysteriously vanished. A week later, her naked and decomposed body was found. Shockingly, two weeks after that, her twenty-two-year-old brother Dennis Keith Smith confessed to the murder. He was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. What was even more shocking was that he was paroled after serving just ten years. After his release, he lived with his parents. Unfortunately, this was the same house where Dustin lived, so for over a year, Dustin had to face the man who killed his mother.
Then, Dustin learned about the disappearance of thirty-five-year-old Carolyn Killaby of Vancouver, Washington, and was convinced that his uncle Dennis was somehow involved. Carolyn and her husband Dan had lived just three miles away from him. On the morning of Saturday, November 11, 1995, the couple patched up an argument and planned on having dinner out together. However, just before Dan left work, his brother told him to come over. The two ended up drinking for several hours, so at 1AM, Dan called home and left a message for Carolyn, saying that he was staying at his brother's house.
However, when he came home that morning, Dan discovered that the message was still on the answering machine and that Carolyn was nowhere to be found. At first, he figured that she was punishing him for not showing up for dinner. The next day, however, when Carolyn had not shown up for work, Dan became concerned and began searching for her. He later found her car abandoned at a local bar. A barmaid told him that she had seen her on Saturday night. Police began investigating the disappearance. They located a witness who claimed to have seen her at the bar with a man named Dennis.
When Dustin Johnson read the newspaper article about Carolyn's disappearance, he was certain that the man named "Dennis" was really his uncle, Dennis Keith Smith. Dustin contacted Dan and the two notified police about their hunch about Smith. Investigators soon confirmed that the man that was last seen with Carolyn was Dennis Smith. Dan soon learned what happened that night; according to a witness, Carolyn was alone, drunk and crying at the bar. At around 11:30PM, Smith came over to her and the two later left together.
When authorities learned that Smith was a paroled murderer, they brought him in for questioning. Smith, however, claimed that he had sexual relations with Carolyn, and that an unknown man had threatened him and took Carolyn away. However, Smith was acting suspicious during the interview and detectives did not believe his story. Authorities searched Smith's truck and found a large hole in the front passenger seat. They also found that the seat covering had been removed and all of the carpeting in the vehicle had been taken out. However, at the time, authorities did not have enough evidence to arrest Smith, and he was released.
Despite Carolyn's body never being found, investigators were able to amass enough evidence to charge him with her murder in July of 1996. By then, Smith was long gone. A $5,000 reward is being offered for his capture.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the January 31, 1997 episode of Unsolved Mysteries. This case was also profiled on Forensic Files, in which Unsolved Mysteries was referenced in how the show aided in Smith's capture.
Results: Captured. On the night of the broadcast, Dennis Keith Smith was watching Unsolved Mysteries with two friends, Tracy Rottleman and John Cummings, while he was using the alias David Sanborn in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. During the broadcast, they noticed that Sanborn had the same tattoos and looked just like Smith. He began acting nervous and then left in the couple's car. When he didn't return, they called the police. Two days later on February 4, 1997, Smith was arrested by the New Smyrna Beach Police in Florida after a traffic stop. During questioning, he tried to escape by grabbing an officer's gun and was shot in the neck and wrist by a second officer.
Smith survived and was released from the hospital a week later. He was later extradited to Washington where he stood trial for Carolyn's murder. Mitochondrial DNA testing helped link blood in Smith's truck to Carolyn. He was convicted of all charges; he received a seventy year sentence for murder and ninety years for parole violation. He later admitted to killing Carolyn and unsuccessfully attempted to help locate her body. He committed suicide in prison on November 18, 2004. Tragically, Carolyn's body has never been found.
- Dennis Keith Smith on Unsolved Archive
- Dennis Smith v. the State of Washington
- Family Holds Little Hope For Missing Woman
- Shooting Victim Is Fugitive From Law
- Officer Who Shot Fugitive Vindicated
- 'Unsolved Mysteries' To Air Story On Fugitive's Capture
- Smith's Attorneys Point to Husband of Carolyn Killaby
- Killaby family sues over Killer's release
- State settles with murder victim's family
- Killaby's killer commits suicide
- Carolyn Killaby at Find a Grave