Deathbed confession: Murder suspect dies before trial

Staunton police arrested Sharron Diane Crawford Smith (seen left in her 1966 high school year book picture and right in her police mugshot) on December 10 for a 41-year-old double homicide at High's Ice Cream.


Sharron Diane Crawford Smith, charged a month ago with the murders of two women at the High's Ice Cream store in Staunton in April 1967, died Monday, January 19, at around 6pm, according to Staunton police. The precise cause of death is not known, but Smith had been suffering from kidney failure and heart disease and required 24-hour medical care at the time of her arrest in December. She was 60 years old.

Smith had been scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, January 7, to enter a plea to the charge that she murdered sisters-in-law Carolyn Perry and Connie Hevener, her co-workers at the High's Ice Cream store, but Staunton Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Robertson postponed that court date indefinitely due to Smith's failing health.

Robertson confirms that before she died, Smith did confess to the murders.

"It isn't going to hurt anything now to say that," he tells the Hook. "Now we're just trying to corroborate a few things she said in her confession."

Robertson declined to elaborate with any further details, but says all will become known on Friday, January 23 at 11am at Staunton City Hall, when he and Staunton police chief James Williams will hold a press conference to discuss the case.

Williams declined to discuss the case prior to the press conference, except to say that, "We're still chasing down a few things, but we'll answer all your questions at the press conference."

This promises to be the moment at which many of the burning questions about the case, including Smith's alleged motive, will be answered. At the December 10 press conference announcing Smith's arrest, Robertson said that if Smith were to die before trial, "I'll tell you everything I know."

Hevener's brother, Carroll Smootz, heard the news at around 9:30pm Monday and it leaves him with mixed feelings.

"I'm glad it's over with, because the trial would have been brutal," says Smootz, "but there are just so many unanswered questions."

Among Smootz's questions is why Staunton police failed to arrest and charge Smith at the time of the murders. As the Hook reported in a cover story earlier this month, Smith was acquainted with Staunton police investigator David Bocock, who was assigned the High's case, and some wonder if that affected Smith's quick dismissal as a suspect.

Bocock died in 2006. Last week, Smootz says he attempted to get the answer straight from Smith.

"I called up the home where she was staying, to see if I could have a conversation with her," he says, "but I never heard back."

Still, Smootz says he's not sure any information that could come out on Friday will help him to bring him any real answers about why Smith wasn't brought to justice in 1967.

"They might have solved that she did it," says Smootz, "but I'm afraid a lot of questions that will always go unanswered."

–updated on January 20 at 3:22pm


Two things: Bocock's full legal name was Davie Lee Bocock. Not David.

Second: Robertson had announced a new court date in March, so it was not postponed indefinitely.

Quote: "STAUNTON � After missing her first court date earlier this month because of medical issues, the suspect in the 1967 double homicide at High's Ice Cream has a second hearing scheduled for March 11 in Staunton General District Court, according to court records."

Good for Ms.Smith for standing up for herself back in a day when police would beat or kill you for being gay.Of course Smith could have just told them off or quit but her over reaction to the teasing sounds like she had been tortured and abused first by her father then these stupid teens who pushed her over the edge.I am shocked that this hasn't happened more often especially back in the 50's and 60's.At least this gives the family a reasson not a good reason but a reason.

You are just as sick as she was....May her horrible soul rest in hell!! Murdering people because they teased her for being gay! People are teased all the time does not give them the right to murder innocent people. Not only was she gay she was a gay monster! Please she was probably harassing them and they were probably not interested and the rejection sent her over the edge!

Myshel,you are obviously stupid and a bigot.

Ah, yes, "bigot" the argument-ending word of choice for the small minded. Don't forget "homophobic" also works, as does the Hitler comparison.
Someone calls you out for advocating and excusing a horrible murder, and you come back with "stupid and a bigot." That's great.

Myshel people like wish everyone who isn't like you death and destruction.Small minds are what you find daily especially on the internet.You are the type of person who deserves nothing and are nothing inside.

Haha Ronnie. I would destroy you in a debate. You're not very smart man, at least when it comes to arguments, sorry. Your word choices, along with your ridiculously weak argument, clearly label you as a "below average" person, someone whom you can not hold an actual intellectual debate. Go read a book on rhetoric, it will help tremendously.

Condoning an innocent murder, let alone two, is simply wrong and perhaps the most "bigoted" of all the statements on this page.

Who the F was talking to you Tom? I assume your a fruit.