Search warrants reveal new details in Bothell mother’s murder
By MATT PHELPS
Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
March 1, 2013 · 5:27 PM
A Bothell mother murdered in her home Feb. 12 had defensive wounds on her hands and arms, a fractured skull, 19 separate blunt force strikes and stab wounds to the face and hands, court documents state.
Because of the nature of Susann Smith’s wounds, she had to be identified by her dental records.
Search warrants describe an alleged struggle between Susann Smith, 37, and her killer. Witness interviews paint a new picture of her estranged husband Alan Justin Smith’s frustration with the couple’s custody battle. Alan Smith has been named by police as a person of interest in the crime.
Bothell police said that no arrests have been made in the case but that additional forensic tests are planned.
“They’re just continuing the investigation and following up on leads,” Bothell police Sgt. Ken Seuberlich told the Everett Herald late Friday.
Bothell police found Susann Smith’s body in her bathtub with no signs of sexual assault on Feb. 12. The front door was unlocked.
Detectives believe she was attacked in her bed with a blunt force object and the struggle continued into the bathroom. An ax was found in the home but detectives determined that it was not used in the attack.
Police took blood samples from the residence for DNA testing that investigators said would be instrumental in solving the case. They also served search warrants on Alan Smith’s apartment and vehicles.
Bothell police Sgt. Cedric Collins confirmed that Smith died of “homicidal violence.”
Police were called to Smith’s residence at the 200 block of 240th St. S.W. in Bothell during a welfare check on Feb. 12. Police entered the home after receiving no answer at the door and seeing large amounts of blood through a bedroom window and the furniture “askew.” Smith’s employer, Z2Live, contacted the Bothell Police Department because they were concerned about Smith’s welfare, said Z2Live CEO Lou Fasulo in a statement on Feb. 13. She failed to show up for two days of work.
Police said that the Smith’s two children were not home at the time of the incident and were either in the custody of the father or at school. They have since been placed with Child Protective Services. Alan Smith took custody of the couple’s two children on Feb. 9 and dropped them off at school and daycare on the morning of Feb. 12.
A neighbor was the last known person to see Susann Smith alive, in her driveway late on the night of Feb. 10.
Bloody footprints, both bare or with socks along with a sole, were found in the home. All the prints were determined to be the same size.
Police contacted Alan Smith on Feb. 12 at his work and wrote in court documents that “his reaction seemed rehearsed.” When told that a dead body was found at Susann Smith’s residence, Alan Smith did not ask any questions about the identity of the person and “did not offer any assistance to (police).”
He described his relationship with his estranged wife as “friendly” and told investigators that their separation had to do with “sex and the kids.” Investigators noted that his tone was angry. He also could not account for four hours on Feb. 10.
“Alan said he had no idea who would want to harm Susann,” investigators wrote. But when asked if he had harmed Susann Smith or if there could be any of his DNA in her house, he did not immediately answer. He said that when he was at the house on Feb. 10 to pick up the children he was wrestling with his son and had his hair pulled.
Investigators also noticed his left hand was swollen. He explained that his 3-year-old son had hit his hand with the back of an ax at his apartment. Investigators stated that his story did not check out as the ax was too heavy for a 3 year old to swing and that the injury did not match the shape of the item. Police also noticed a bandaid on his thumb, where he claimed he cut himself with a knife while cutting an apple. He also had numerous other abrasions on his knuckles that were almost healed.
The Smith’s oldest child told detectives in specific detail that Alan Smith had cut an apple for them early on the morning of Feb. 12 but did not note that Alan Smith cut himself in the process.
When asked if he would ever harm his estranged wife, investigators wrote that “Alan did not immediately answer and would not look at me.” When asked again, Alan Smith told the investigator “I think I may need to talk to an attorney.”
Investigators also noted that Alan Smith never asked about his children until they told him they would be staying with CPS, to which he commented “I guess I will have to live with that.”
Later that day, Alan Smith contacted Bothell police to invite them to search his apartment and car. Detectives found a Home Depot bag with unopened Kleenguard chemical splash resistant coveralls and a new roll of masking tape in his car. When asked about the items he said he planned to paint his apartment. Investigators also found unopened latex gloves. He claimed that all the items were purchased on his lunch break on Feb. 12.
Detectives also found papers in Alan Smith’s apartment pertaining to the divorce and custody battle. One piece of paper was entitled “self talk” and had “Anger at colleagues for helping me drive her off. Excessive need to talk and get validation. Sleeplessness,” written on it.
Bothell police searched Alan Smith’s work computer and found a kayak.com search for a flight from Seattle to Simon Bolivar Airport in Venezuela for one adult and two children. The date parameters for the airline were Feb. 12 to March 5. He also did a search for where the best places are abroad to live and work, the documents continue.
He also searched on google.com “will Venezuela extradite to the U.S.”
Alan Smith’s ex-girlfriend
A woman claiming to be Alan Smith’s ex-girlfriend advised police that they had dated for two to three months in fall of 2012. She knew at the time that he was going through a divorce and custody battle. She told police that Alan Smith asked her in October how “someone could could make somebody disappear without anyone knowing.” A few days later the woman received a call from him “ranting and ranting,” and said “I just want her to be done with,” she told detectives.
On another night the woman joked that “he could use potassium chloride into the rectum to kill someone and it would be difficult to detect.”
“She said that Alan stopped and looked at her for a really long time and she felt he was thinking about it,” the court documents continued.
Some witnesses described Alan Smith to detectives as “creepy,” “weird” and “awkward.” Co-workers said that Alan Smith would frequently express his hatred and hostility towards his estranged wife. His supervisor warned him not to talk about the subject because it was disrupting the work environment.
Other co-workers told investigators that “Alan indicated a fear that Susann would attempt to take the two children back to her native Germany,” and that he would do whatever it took to prevent that.
A co-worker who went on a business trip with Alan Smith told detectives that he was very distraught on the trip about his wife recently winning a court ruling. He reportedly told the co-worker that he wanted his wife to “know the pain I feel.”
An examination of Susann Smith’s cell phone contained a text message sent from Alan Smith on Feb. 12 that said “hi Susi.” Police indicate that at no time did Alan Smith ever refer to his estranged wife as “Susi” or just text to say “hi” prior to that message.
Susann Smith’s attorney
Susann Smith’s attorney John Ely told police that after a recent monetary judgement in their custody battle, the couple was in the hallway discussing the ruling.
“In 15 years of practicing family law, Ely does not remember ever seeing a stare by one party to the other in the court house quite like that stare Alan gave Susann,” detectives wrote. Ely said it was “an incredibly menacing stare.”
Ely stated that Susann Smith denied that her husband had ever physically abused her but said that he could be “emotionally threatening.” She stated that he would get in her face and confront her.
Ely also said that Alan Smith had accused his estranged wife of sexually abusing their oldest child and then a month later sent Susann Smith an email asking to move back in to the house to “give his children their family back.”
He later rescinded his accusations that she had abused the child and filed a motion that his wife planned to move to her native Germany with the two children. During one interaction at the courthouse, Alan Smith called his wife a “monster,” according to court documents.
Contact Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at email@example.com or 1-425-483-3732 (ext 5050).