Mother of slain toddler apprehended

Woman, who most recently resided in Vancouver, captured in woods near Oregon Coast

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: August 3, 2014, 11:06 PM

 
photoJessica Smith, mother of Isabella Smith, 2, found slain on the Oregon Coast

A 40-year-old woman wanted on suspicion of aggravated murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter at a Cannon Beach, Ore., resort was found Sunday in a heavily wooded area about 15 miles from the coast, according to authorities.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted Jessica Smith’s gold 2007 Chevrolet Suburban around 5:30 p.m. on a logging road near Highway 26, said Cannon Beach Police Chief Jason Schermerhorn during a news conference late Sunday.

Police then entered the area by vehicle and arrested her without incident, Schermerhorn said.

She is scheduled to appear at 1:15 p.m. today in Clatsop County Circuit Court in Astoria, Ore., on suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder, said county District Attorney Joshua Marquis.

Authorities have identified Smith as a resident of Goldendale, but Clark County court records related to her pending divorce indicate she listed Vancouver as her most recent address.

Smith’s 2-year-old daughter, Isabella Smith, was found dead and her 13-year-old daughter wounded with “critical cuts” inside a guest room at the Surfsand Resort.

The toddler’s cause of death was homicide. The manner of her death remains undetermined. Investigators are waiting for the results of toxicology tests to determine how the child was killed. Marquis said the results would take at least until the end of the week. She didn’t have any apparent physical injuries, Schermerhorn said.

Smith’s teenage daughter is in stable condition at a Portland hospital and is in protective custody, Schermerhorn said.

The mother and two children checked into the resort Wednesday. Housekeepers found the wounded girl inside their room Friday morning.

Jessica Smith’s husband, Gregory G. Smith, filed for a divorce in Clark County Superior Court on June 30. In a temporary court order, Jessica Smith was barred from traveling with the two children outside the state. Gregory Smith also agreed to pay for himself and Jessica Smith to undergo an evaluation by psychologist Landon Poppleton for the purpose of determining custody of the children, court records show.

Petition to the court

In a July 17 petition for an anti-harassment order against her estranged husband, Jessica Smith listed her address as 600 S.E. 177th Ave. in Vancouver, which is the address of The Reserve at Columbia Tech Center. She claimed that Gregory Smith was abusive toward her.

Jessica Smith wrote that Gregory Smith previously filed a restraining order petition against her in June because she and the children were “moving closer to my family to help with my ailing mother … and to be closer to their support and love.” She said he wanted to “control” her and the children.

Clark County court Commissioner Jeffrey Witteman denied Jessica Smith’s petition July 18 because he did not find a basis to for an anti-harassment order against Gregory Smith, according to court records. The Smiths were scheduled for a follow-up court hearing Aug. 6.

In a statement Sunday, the family of Gregory Smith requested privacy.

“We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of sympathy and support from Cannon Beach and the surrounding communities,” the family said. “We would also like to thank all the law enforcement agencies for their tireless efforts.

“Our family is working through a very difficult time, and we would request that our privacy be respected.”