Documents show Bothell homicide victim, husband in midst of heated divorce, custody battle
By MATT PHELPS
Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
February 27, 2013 · Updated 12:09 PM
Police identified the woman found murdered in her Bothell home and have named her estranged husband as a person of interest.
The Smiths were in the midst of a contentious divorce, according to hundreds of Snohomish County Court documents pertaining to their divorce and obtained by the Reporter.
Susann Smith, 37, was found dead from trauma to the head, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office. Police found the woman in her bathtub on Feb. 12.
Bothell police Sgt. Cedric Collins confirmed that Smith died of “homicidal violence.” Smith’s body was moved to the bath tub from the alleged place that she was killed and a bloody ax was found in the home, according to court documents obtained by the Everett Herald.
Police have said that the woman’s two children were not home at the time of the incident.
Bothell police found Smith during a welfare check at her home in the 200 block of 240th St. S.W. in Bothell on Tuesday morning. Smith’s employer, Z2Live, contacted the Bothell Police Department on Tuesday because they were concerned about Smith’s welfare, said Z2Live CEO Lou Fasulo in a statement on Feb. 13.
No arrests have been made in the case as of press time on Wednesday but the woman’s estranged husband Alan Justin Smith has been named as a person of interest and police served a search warrant on his apartment.
The couple, who was married for eight years and have two small children together, were separated on Nov. 18, 2011.
They even considered living together when they originally decided to separate but that did not work out.
Court documents state that “the marriage is irretrievably broken.”
The couple’s two children, ages 3 and 6, spent the majority of the time with Susann and extended weekends with their father.
Alan stated in court documents that they had “reached a fairly high level of cooperation for eight months without any court orders” prior to hiring lawyers in August.
The couple did have a restraining order keeping them apart when the divorce was initially filed.
The most recent disputes centered on Susann’s desire to move herself and the children to her native Germany to be with her family, the documents continue. Susann took yearly trips to see her family, most with the children and without Alan.
Susann’s mother Johanna E. Hentschel told the court in July 2012: “Susann said she could not fulfill our request to move back to us in Germany with the children after the divorce because she did not want to take the kids away from their father.”
Alan stated in court documents that he felt fearful of losing his children and that his psychiatrist told him that he thought Susann had a serious personality disorder. He sought primary custody and asked the court to conduct a review of Susann’s “mental issues.”
Alan’s psychiatrist also told him that issues surrounding their son could mean that Susann was sexually abusing him. Alan used this information in court documents in petitioning for more time with the children. Susann “adamantly denied” the accusations.
Alan filed for a second court order in July last year after Susann threatened to take the children back to Germany. He wrote: “Unfortunately, things have gone a bit sideways as of late, such that I feel temporary orders are appropriate. For example, recently Susann has argued for me having less regular visitations with the kids in exchange for more visits with them at her household. I find this proposal unacceptable and wish to continue the kids’ regular and frequent overnight visits with me.”
Alan was providing his estranged wife with more than $2,000 a month in financial assistance, according to court documents. He said that she had accumulated more than $9,000 in credit card debt since their separation and that he was working 18 percent overtime to meet his obligations. Many of the initial divorce proceedings centered on monitory disputes.
Alan contended that the couple agreed he would eventually retake the Bothell home from Susann because “she could not afford the mortgage.” He originally moved to Seattle in the Ravenna neighborhood but then moved back to Bothell to be closer to his children.
The couple were also in the midst of disputes over a parenting plan and how much time the children spent with each parent.
Both parents state in court documents that they were “not comfortable” with the children being away from them more than two nights.
The couple was also seeing a therapist and mediator from the Mastery Health and Learning Center.
Court documents have many testimonials about Susann’s parenting.
“I was impressed with how Susann managed to create a space for her kids to feel safe and secure and fill the house with love and joy during this challenging time,” wrote friend Rebecca Freeman.
Alan portrayed Susann in court document as a controlling person who punished their children too harshly.
Alan’s aunt, Judith Smith, stated in court documents that she witnessed Susann shout things like “stupid,” “worthless” and “good-for-nothing” at Alan during arguments with the children in the room.
“It is hard to express the venom in her voice,” wrote Judith. “I felt physically sick.”
In her testimony, she also observed Susann allegedly assaulting the kids by shaking them and using verbal abuse. Judith, who is disabled, stated that once on vacation Susann became enraged and shouted at Judith, blocking the doorway for punishment with one of the children in her arms.
Alan also stated that Susann would allegedly spank the kids and his youngest child told him “I want mommy to stop screaming at me.”
Alan’s father Craig claimed in court documents that his son had “made the classic error of choosing a woman much like his brutal mother.”
Samantha Swensen, who met the couple in 2006 and is a pediatric occupational therapist and the children’s godmother, supported Alan’s parenting skills in a statement to the court.
The couple also had active disputes as to whether their children needed to see a therapist to help emotionally with the separation of their parents.
Susann’s witnesses all painted a picture of a husband who was not wanting to be a part of his children’s lives at times or only “when he was in the mood.”
Her sister Kristin Hentschel, who does not live in the United States, told the court: “During my visits, my impression was that for Alan, sitting at the table as a family was rather annoying.”
She also disputes Susann’s family in one of their accusations: “She never said something bad about Alan in front of the children but encourages them to spend time with their dad.”
Susann’s mother stated that Alan never did household work and told her that they were “women’s business.”
The couple met in 1998 and married in april 2004 in Karlsruhe, Germany. They went on a “world tour” after being married. Susann was involved in a car accident, in which she received a judgement from an insurance company of $45,000. During the next few years the couple lived off the insurance money and worked intermittently, the documents continue.
They moved permanently to the United States when Alan began working at Boeing as an engineer in 2007.
Susann had a Master’s Degree from the University of Washington and the University of Regensburg and worked as a German translator for Z2Live.
Contact Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-483-3732 (ext 5050).