Prosecutors say modern police technology, DNA and a pack of cigarettes has helped them solve a 27-year long murder case in Tacoma.
Pierce County prosecutors have charged Christopher Leon Smith, 50, with first degree murder in the death of 46-year-old Carol Davidson.
"Justice has been a long timing coming for Carol Davidson's family," said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "This is one of those few cases that actually played out as cases do on CSI and other television shows."
Davidson’s body was found in an apartment on August 30, 1986. Davidson had blunt force trauma to the head, her hands were bound behind her back, and she was gagged. The coroner determined she was strangled.
Evidence was collected at the scene, including a pack of Kool cigarettes, but detectives were unable to identify a suspect and they suspended the investigation.
Tacoma Police launched a Cold Case Unit last year, funded by a grant from the National Institute of Justice. The Davidson murder case was reopened and biological evidence was submitted to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab. Prosecutors say a DNA match was made to Smith. His DNA had been collected after his 2009 convictions in Pierce County for rape, child rape and kidnapping.
When Smith was a suspect in two Tacoma rapes in 1983 and 1984, one of the women said her attacker purchased a pack of Kool cigarettes when they were together. Smith told detectives during those investigations that the sex with both women was consensual and that he smoked Kool cigarettes.
Smith is serving a 50 year-to-life sentence for the 2009 rape and kidnapping convictions. Prosecutors say he denies being involved in the Davidson murder and suggested any DNA linked to him is part of a conspiracy.
Smith will be arraigned July 26.