Suspect arrested in Del. abduction and murder was Purple Heart recipient

Dwight Smith
CBS Philly

(CBS) WILMINGTON, Del. - The young man who allegedly confessed to abducting and killing a 65-year-old woman, is a Purple Heart recipient who was wounded in Afghanistan and is  on leave from the Army.

Police say Dwight L. Smith told them he intentionally killed Marsha Lee while she was out walking her dog. He told police during questioning that something "clicked on" and he wanted to kill someone once he had Lee in his car.

CBS Philly reports that two eyewitnesses told police they heard a collision and saw a man pick up something and put in into the back seat of a red SUV. One witness said he heard a woman scream "you're hurting me," or "you're killing me."

Officials say tire marks at the scene of the incident point to the possibility that Smith's vehicle struck Lee on the sidewalk at an intersection while she was walking her dog Monday morning.

She was reported missing by her husband about an hour after she left for her walk when the dog returned home alone.

On Monday evening, police located the blood-splattered SUV with front-end damage. They brought Smith in for questioning.

According to charging paperwork, Smith told police that once he had Lee in the vehicle he "clicked on" and wanted to kill someone. He told police that he initially told Lee he would take her to the hospital, but ended up deciding not to.

"He went on to state that he bashed in her head and added that he struck her head on a rail several times," the paperwork says.

Late Monday night, law enforcement officials found Lee's body, unclothed, at a yard near I-95. Court records say when asked why the body was naked, Smith told them he wanted the crime to look like something else.

During an interview with the suspect's father, Dwight Smith, Sr., it was revealed that his son is a Staff Sergeant in the Army who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. This April, he said Smith's convoy was bombed and his son was severely hurt.

"He made it back, but for me, I don't think he made it all the way back," Smith, Sr. said. He said his son suffered head trauma and thinks some type of traumatic stress from his time in the service caused this incident.

"The kid that I sent over there with them [the Army] was not the man they sent back," Smith, Sr. said. "My thoughts and prayers go out to the other family because this is a tragedy for two families. I just wanted to make sure that everyone knew what type of kid this was, and this was a kid."