Biting Back - Eric Smith
Eric M. Smith (pictured, top) was an awkward and unpopular boy at his school in Steuben County, New York, and he was mercilessly teased for his red hair, freckles, large ears, and nerdy glasses. As a young child Eric developed severe anger issues and problems controlling his emotions, which stemmed from feeling inferior to other children and being unable to defend himself from their cruelty. Eric was entirely friendless throughout his childhood, and preferred the company of children much younger than himself when forced to socialise.
On August 2, 1993, thirteen-year-old Eric Smith was walking home from school when he noticed a small child wandering by himself down the street. Four-year-old Derrick Robie had been let out to play by himself at the local park, when he was approached by the harmless looking Eric and asked if he wanted to play. Derrick happily agreed and followed Eric into the park and into a small patch of trees. There, Eric Smith launched a vicious attack on the toddler.
Eric later confessed to grabbing Derrick Robie by the neck and hoisting him into the air, throttling him. When Derrick began to cry Eric grew enraged and dropped two large rocks on his head, beat him about the face, and continued to choke him. When Derrick was rendered unconscious Eric stripped the little boy and sexually assaulted him with a broken tree branch. As a final humiliation to his victim, Eric took the lunch box Derrick had been carrying, emptied its contents over his body, and poured the child’s bottle of Kool-Aid into the gaping head wounds caused by the dropped rocks. Satisfied Derrick was dead, Eric fled the scene.
Derrick’s mother immediately phoned the police when she arrived at the park to pick up her son only to find he wasn’t there. A police search of the area soon found the horribly beaten body of Derrick Robie, who was found to have died from blunt force trauma and asphyxiation. Various factors of the crime scene baffled police; though Derrick had been sexually assaulted with a stick no semen was found, the contents of the victims bag had been strewn chaotically all over the area, and scuffle marks on the ground indicated the killer was not particularly big. Clearly the murder hadn’t been well planned. Further confounding police was the fact not a single witness in the park reported seeing an adult in the area until Derrick’s mother turned up to fetch him.
Derrick Robie was buried five days after his body was found in the park. Investigators were keen to talk to as many potential witnesses as possible, and appealed for public help; on the day before Derrick was buried, thirteen-year-old Eric Smith walked into the command centre for the murder investigations and volunteered his help. At first Eric told the interviewing officer he had merely gone to the park on the day Derrick Robie died. He then abruptly admitted to seeing Robie across a field from a patch of trees - which was a bang on description of the crime scene. Realising he’d made the deathly mistake of putting himself near the scene of the crime, Eric Smith became extremely upset and confessed to killing Derrick Robie. He took a police unit back to the crime scene and appeared to enjoy re-enacting the murder.
Eric Smith was charged with one count of second-degree murder, and remained stoic during his court appearances. In light of his age and mental health issues at the time of the murders, Eric was found guilty and sentenced to nine years to life in prison. He is currently still incarcerated within the general population, and has been imprisoned for nearly twenty five years.