33-Year-Old Murder May Be Solved; Suspect Is Quadriplegic

Baby was only witness to 1983 murder of Calif. mom Marsha Carter
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 3, 2016 2:40 PM CDT
33-Year-Old Murder May Be Solved; Suspect Is Quadriplegic
Mystery solved?   (Getty Images)

For more than 30 years, the case of Marsha Carter's murder has been a cold one, with all leads turning up empty and the Bay Area case eventually fading out of the papers. That changed last month with the arrest of a Placer County man in connection with the death of the 25-year-old mom of four, the Richmond Standard reports. That man is 54-year-old Sherill Smothers, an ex-boyfriend who's now a quadriplegic after a drunk driver smashed into his car in 1988—five years after Carter's body was found in Sacramento in the trunk of her own car. The Daily Beast explains how on the morning of Dec. 7, 1983, three of Carter's sons (all 11 and under) went into her bedroom to find nothing but a bloody mattress; they ran out of a house to get a neighbor, and when they all came back, they also found the only witness to what had transpired: their almost toddler-aged brother, frightened but safe under the bed.

Carter's body was found 10 days later, but with no compelling evidence and a witness too young to talk about what had happened, the case died out. The Standard notes, however, that Sgt. Stina Johanson wasn't ready to give up on the case, and she reopened it in 2008 and was eventually able to find enough to lead to Smothers' arrest. A rep for the Richmond Police is keeping mum on motive, noting only that Carter and Smothers "were in a dating relationship." Police believe Carter was stabbed to death, per the East Bay Times. A secret grand jury hearing in August resulted in a decision to file murder charges against Smothers. He was arrested Sept. 14 but is now out on $1 million bail; the Daily Beast notes that would've been a small part of the $6.1 million he won in his suit against GM for the accident that paralyzed him. (More than 40 years later, two arrests in the slayings of two teens.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.