Combat Veteran Arrested in Del. Abduction, Murder

Staff Sgt. Dwight Smith claims he doesn't remember any of the incident but court papers tell another story

Delaware police arrested a man wanted for the murder of a Wilmington woman who was allegedly abducted while walking her dog in the Brandywine Hills neighborhood around 9 Monday morning.

It turns out the suspect in the disappearance of Marsha Lee is a combat veteran on leave from the Army.

Wilmington Police arrested 24-year-old Army Staff Sgt. Dwight Smith and charged him Tuesday with first-degree murder and kidnapping.

Smith allegedly wanted to kill someone when he hit 65-year-old Marsha Lee near her Wilmington home, according to court papers.

Witnesses told police they saw a man -- later identified as Smith -- put something in the driver's side rear door of a red Hummer at the intersection of Lowell Road and Matson Run Parkway around 9:30 Monday morning and then pull away leaving found articles of clothing at the intersection.

Smith reportedly offered to take Lee to the hospital after hurting her in the crash, according to court papers.

But instead of getting her help, Smith allegedly took Lee to a DelDOT rail yard near I-95, smashed the woman's head against a rail and dumped her naked body, court papers said.

Lee's husband reported her missing around 10 a.m. Monday after returning to their Brandywine Hills home to find the couple's dog running around but no signs of his wife.

Later Monday evening, investigators stopped a person in an SUV matching the hummer's description in the 300 block of Lea Blvd in Wilmington. Smith was identified as the driver and was taken into custody, along with the vehicle. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif";} After further investigation, police found enough evidence to charge the Afghanistan war veteran.

Police eventually found a woman's body in the rail yard and tentatively identified her Lee. An autopsy must be conducted before police can positively identify Lee and her cause of death.

Despite official court papers stating the Smith set out to kill a person when he allegedly hit Lee, the Army sergeant told his family another story.

NBC10's Justin Pizzi spoke to Smith's father Tuesday afternoon. Dwight Smith, Sr. says his son was on leave from Fort Drum for the holidays when he was arrested.

Smith Sr. says his son -- who received a Purple Heart during his second tour in Afghanistan -- told him he doesn't remember hitting Lee or grabbing and dumping her body.

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Smith was injured in an explosion in April and suffered brain damage.

"I lost my son, he flatlined twice in that helicopter," Smith Sr. said about his son's experience in the war zone. "God seen forth to bring him back to me. And then this happened. Am I hurt for that family, yes I hurt for that family, I grieve for that family, I’m praying for that family."

Staff Sgt. Smith's family says they tried to get him more help from the Army but that the attempts were unsuccessful.

Like so many other soldiers, he wasn't ready to handle life outside of the service, his dad said.

Smith was being held without bail.


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