Monday, October 15, 2007

Devon Epps

This is a longer entry than usual, profiling a case that many are following and waiting, waiting for an arrest and justice.

A horrific tragic tale of a child's death by a carjacker who enters his mother's car and kills him.

That's from first reports. As the amount of days grow longer from the date of the crime, there are other questions being asked about the crime, and about the single witness, the mother.

The death of Devon Epps, aged 7, in August, was in the news primarily in Greenville, South Carolina. In September the story was picked up and featured briefly on shows such as Nancy Grace (CNN), Greta Van Sustern (FOX), Geraldo (FOX), the Scared Monkeys web site, and RapidEyeReality. Pat Brown, former FBI profiler has commented about the case on her web site and on television.

Although a 911 call to Police on August 12, 2007 begins the investigation into his death, the story behind little Devon Epps's life and death begins earlier. It seems Devon, was no stranger to tragedy.
THE FIRE: Three months before his death, a lamp was placed on the floor (presumably as a night light) and somehow (according to the mother) a blanket fell over the lamp, causing a fire in the home Devon shared with his mother Amanda. Little Devon woke up and burned his hands on the doorknob trying to get to his mother to wake her up. Devon suffered smoke inhalation in addition to his burns. While in hospital he told family that it took a long time to wake his mother up. Everyone considered that Devon was brave, and a hero for his actions in trying to save himself and his mother.

However, the mother in telling HER tale, paints herself as the heroine, saving little Devon and herself from the fire.

The May 1, 2007 fire was ruled accidental.

Then comes August 12, 2007. A 911 call triggers Emergency responders and Law Enforcement to the scene.

The 911 report:
Amanda Reagan Smith told 911 that around 10:30 to 10:45 pm, at the intersection of Jacobs Road and an Interstate 85 frontage road near White Horse Road, Greenville, S.C. she and her son were "carjacked and attacked" by a "bushy haired stranger."

When Law Enforcement and Emergency Responders arrived, Amanda Reagan Smith was outside the car, at the front of the vehicle, while little Devon's body was lying outside the car, on the ground, towards the rear of the vehicle. Amanda was asking instructions on how to do CPR on her son.

The emerging tale: Amanda Reagan Smith stated to LE: "As she stopped her 2000 Honda Civic at a stop sign at the frontage road's intersection with Jacobs. At that point, "a bushy haired stranger, in his late 30s to early 40s with reddish hair and a beard, wearing blue jeans and a white T-shirt, and wielding a knife told her son Devon to get into the back seat of the small car, and ordered her to drive to a wooded area near the intersection. The stranger then ordered the mother out of the car, locked the car, rolled up the windows and got into the back seat of the car and "smothered" her son by putting a pillow from her car over his face."

The mother further stated she tried to break the window of the car, injuring herself. After smothering the boy, and leaving him in the vehicle, the bushy haired stranger left the vehicle and ran off into the woods.

Questions: Why would a nursing student need CPR instructions from a 911 dispatcher? From those who were in nursing school at the same time as Amanda, CPR is one of the first lessons taught, and refresher courses issued periodically.

The objective of a carjacker is to take the car. Why would this suspect kill a child in the back seat of a car, leaving the adult not only unharmed, but without the vehicle?

The perpetrator sketch: This sketch is of the presumed attacker.
Law Enforcement officials searched the woods and found no one.

Officially Deceased:
Greenville Hospital System's Children's Hospital: 11:42 Devon Green pronounced dead by Greenville County Deputy Coroner Karie Cain.

The following Monday the autopsy found that Devon Epps "DIED OF ASPHYXIA DUE TO NECK COMPRESSION.
QUESTION: Why would the attacker, who had a knife, use a pillow to "smother" the child (according to the mother)?

Greenville County Sheriff's Office released the sketch of the presumed suspect to the public. The sketch is said to resemble not only Devon's father, Chad Epps, (but older) but also a homeless man seen in the White Horse Road area. Law Enforcement has since spoke to the man, and he is not a suspect in the case.

Devon's Father: Chad Epps was in jail on the night of his son's murder and from people who know/knew Chad, from all accounts, even though he had his problems, he loved Devon. He'd apparently been there in the jail for approximately 7 days before the night in question on a complaint by Amanda Reagan Smith for non-support. An officer had tobreak to him the bleak news about Devon's murder. Public Record

Reassuring the public: Although Law Enforcement are investigating tips, after the intial release of the sketch, there has been no further widespread search for the suspect shown in the sketch, nor has there been the usual televised appeals for the public's help in finding the person in the sketch. Further, LE has reassured schools and the public in the area that there is no reason to be concerned about their safety or a knife wielding bushy haired stranger.

Why not? Does this mean they KNOW who the perpetrator is? Could it perhaps be not a stranger who did this, but someone close to Devon? A family member? The mother?

In the media, we've all heard where the parent or parents are immediately on television appealing for help in finding the murderer of their loved one when tragedies such as this occur. There have been no public or televised appeals by Amanda Reagan Smith for help in finding the killer of her son Devon.

At one public vigil at the site (according to locals), the mother did not show up. Although a friend of hers stated that Amanda and her parents didn't know about the vigil, it seems unlikely that they were not informed by people close to them who did attend. The mother held a vigil, not at the site, but behind the McDonald's close by.

A local who knows the families was asked (online) whether Amanda Reagan Smith knew of the online forums and of posters regard for Devon, and their speculation that there was no bushy haired stranger, that it was the mother? The person responded "I have talked to her about this very thing and she told me she thinks it is funny as hell. "

Why no public appeals for help to the killer of her son by Amanda? Why does she think posters speculation funny?

MYSPACE PAGE: Amanda is reported to have become a party animal in the last two years and had developed a MySpace website. The day after Devon's death it was noticed by posters that its content of personal photos of Amanda, photos of a bucket full of booze and fruit, and a list of drinks Amanda liked to drink had been changed to a memorial site for Devon on August 14th, the day after Devon died. It was changed back to a personal page rather quickly and then removed. Another page popped up and was as quickly deleted. Cached page (with the memorial commentary.) Comments from her friends online have implied that ARS has found "new" friends to hang out with, since many of them have had no contact with or from ARS since shortly after Devon's death and the investigation began. Locals report ARS as working at a business called Zaxby's (fast food) and is no longer a nursing student.

Amanda Reagan Smith

In amongst the photos on the original site there were notations "I regularly use 100 watt light bulbs." "I fear.. tomorrow." "I've never been to jail and I don't intend to."

Question: Why put such statements on the website? Was this in response to the fire investigation being reopened? Or the investigation?

Amanda Reagan Smith's other contact with Law Enforcement: numerous traffic offenses, primarily that of having a lead foot while driving. Speeding offenses- 1996 (1); 1999 (1); 2001 (1); 2002 (2); 2003 (2); 2004 (1); 2005 (1); 2006, and 2007 (1).

1999 (failure to show proof of insurance (1); 1999 (failed to show to court); 1999 (failure to wear seat belt); 2001 (failure to yield right of way);2002 (negligent driving), 2005 (fraudulent check to Walmart); 2006 (Operating vehicle on highway without registration and license due to delinquency); 2007 (Use of license plate other than for vehicle which issued); 2007 (failure to show to court); 2007 (rear ended a truck while driving grandparent's vehicle).

Injuries during the reported carjacking incident:
Although Smith suffered injuries in the incident deputies have declined to release to the media the extent of her injuries.

Possible clues: Local businesses within yards of the scene are reported to have video cameras. Whether via camera footage or a witness, Investigators on the case are now searching for a 1998 to 2005 white Lincoln Town car which was seen on a frontage road in the area between 10:30 and 11:00 pm the night of August 12, 2007. Presumably police will determine whether the driver of the car is a witness or a suspect once identified.

Forensic tests are being conducted on Amanda Reagan Smith's 2000 Honda Civic and the pillow that she claims a carjacker used in the death of her son.

The previous fire (ruled accidental) is being reviewed.

It's been alleged by locals (online) that Amanda Reagan Smith has lawyered up and has taken two polygraphs and failed.

Memorial Sites for DEVON EPPS: