As part of his Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is asking for information regarding the murder of a World War II veteran in Ross County.
Harry Smith, 89, died of blunt force trauma on October 16, 2011. After the homicide, investigators believe the killer or killers then set fire to Smith's home on State Route 772 in Chillicothe.
"My daughter and her husband went out to his house, opened the door, and smoke rolled out of the house," said Jerry Smith, Harry's son. "We initially thought the fire took his life, but found out later that he had been murdered."
Smith, who served the country in the Navy, spent his entire life in Chillicothe and worked as a Walmart greeter later in life. An avid painter of scenery, Smith was also a grandfather, a great-grandfather, and a great-great-grandfather.
"It has been really hard on the family, and it is something that never really leaves your mind," Jerry Smith said. "It is with you like your breath is. It is a constant thing."
In an effort to gather new information on the case, Jerry Smith and his four children today announced a new $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for Smith's murder. The information must be received in the next 90 days.
The new reward is in addition to two other rewards being offered by Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers and the Ohio Fire Marshal's Office. The Fire Marshal's Office is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to an arson arrest and conviction, and a person who provides information to the Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers tip line could receive a reward of up to several thousand dollars if the information leads to an arrest. The number for the Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers tip line is 1-800-222-TIPS [Call: 1-800-222-TIPS] (8477).
"This man served his country in World War II, was an active member of his community, and deserved respect," said Attorney General DeWine. "We strongly believe that someone knows who committed this brutal crime, and it is time for that person to come forward and help give this family some peace."
Agents with the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) are investigating the case. Investigators believe that robbery may have been the motive for the crime, because several items were removed from Smith's home before it was set on fire.
Those with information on this or any other unsolved homicide can contact the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) at 855-BCI-OHIO [Call: 855-BCI-OHIO] . Tips can also be submitted online through the Ohio Attorney General's website.
Attorney General DeWine’s Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative was developed in September 2012 in an effort to create a statewide database of the approximately 5,000 unsolved killings in the state. So far, law enforcement agencies have submitted 1,803 unsolved homicide cases to the public database.
The goal of the initiative is to bring widespread visibility to cases, increase the possibility for tips, and help jurisdictions compare details of unsolved crimes.