Real Name: Judith Lois Bradford Smith
Nicknames: Judy Smith
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, she went sightseeing while he 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. The two 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 her 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 her. 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. The remains were identified as hers through dental records. However, a pair of Bolle's sunglasses and a blue backpack found with her body was 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 she 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 her 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 the killer is not native to North Carolina, but may have ties to the area. Her killer has never been identified and the case remains unsolved.
Suspects: Jeff Smith has been ruled out as a suspect in his wife's disappearance. Authorities believe that the owner of the Bolle's sunglasses and blue backpack found with Judy's 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 Judy's diamond wedding ring and $167 in cash.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the August 1, 2001 episode. It also appeared on Haunting Evidence.
Results: Unsolved. Sadly, Jeff Smith passed away in 2005. Authorities have looked into the possibility that serial killer Gary Michael Hilton was responsible for her murder. Another one of his victims was found tied to a tree not far from where Judy was found. However, no other evidence has been found to link him to the crime.
- Judy Smith at Unsolved.com
- Judy Smith at Wikipedia
- (July 1997 Philadelphia City Paper Article) Missing
- (October 1997 Philadelphia City Paper Article) Found
- The Boys From Buncombe
- Authorities to retrace steps of Boston area woman
- Husband Visits Site Where Remains Found
- The strange, unsolved case of Judy Smith
- Judith Smith at Find a Grave