By Ben Simmoneau, David Madden and Todd Quinones
WILMINGTON, Del. (CBS) – The 24-year-old man who allegedly confessed to the murder and kidnapping of a 65-year-old woman who was out walking her dog, is a Purple Heart recipient who was wounded in Afghanistan.
What’s more, Wilmington Police say the suspect, Dwight Smith, told them he intentionally killed Marsha Lee.
Tire marks left at the scene indicate that Smith’s vehicle, a red Hummer with tinted windows, struck Lee on the sidewalk at the corner of Matson Run Parkway East and Lowell Road, as she was walking her dog Monday morning.
Two eyewitnesses allegedly told police they heard a collision and saw a man pick up something and shove it into a red SUV. One of the witnesses said he heard a woman scream either “you’re hurting me” or “you’re killing me.”
Monday evening police stopped Smith’s SUV, on which they found front-end damage and spattered blood, and took him into custody for questioning.
According to charging paperwork filed in Wilmington, Smith told investigators under questioning that once he had the victim in the vehicle “he clicked on” and wanted to kill someone. He allegedly told police that he initially told Lee he would take her to the hospital but then decided otherwise.
“He went on to state that he bashed in her head and added that he struck her head on a rail several times,” the paperwork says.
Late Monday night, police found Lee’s body unclothed at a DelDOT yard off Rockwood Road near I-95. When police asked him why she was naked, he told them that he wanted the crime to look like something else according the court records.
Lee was initially reported missing Monday morning after she failed to return home from a walk with her dog. Lee left her home at about 9 a.m. and her husband reported her missing about an hour later when the dog returned home alone.
Smith’s parents live not far from the scene of the incident in Wilmington. During a brief interview Tuesday afternoon his father, Dwight Smith, Sr., told Eyewitness news that his son is a Staff Sergeant in the Army who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. This past April, just before his second tour was due to wrap up, he says Smith’s convoy was bombed and his son was severely wounded.
“He made it back, but for me, I don’t think he made it all the way back,” his father said. He says his soon suffered head trauma and believes some type of traumatic stress from his service caused this incident.
“The kid that I sent over there with them [the Army] was not the man they sent back,” Smith, Sr. said. “My thoughts and prayers go out to the other family because this is a tragedy for two families. I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew what type of kid this was, and this was a kid.”
The investigation is ongoing.