Police reopen 2004 homicide investigation

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WXTX) - Dewayne Johnson remembers coming to work on March 8, 2004 and seeing squad cars and ambulances surrounding Kirby's Speed Shop next door.

The owner, 50-year-old William Kirby Smith Jr., was found dead in the office. Police say the father of three was working on the computer when he was shot with small caliber handgun. His body was found the next morning by a coworker. His auto shop was located the back of the Merry Acres Industrial Park off Morris Road.

At the time, police said there was no forced entry and that nothing had been taken.

"I raced with him for years and worked here beside him for several years. We got along real well. He got along well with everybody. He was a good man. He was a good daddy," Johnson said.

After Smith's murder, his family put up billboards and posted fliers across Columbus, trying to find his killer but the case is still unsolved.

In late 2010, his relatives went to the Columbus Police Department's Cold Case Squad and asked that it be reopened. Now, detectives are pouring over the file, working to find out who pulled the trigger and took Smith's life.

Angelo Nappi owns Nappi Truck and Auto Repair which used to be Smith's business. Nappi bought the garage a year after the murder, not knowing someone had been killed inside.

"I'd like to know exactly what happened. I own the place now. I can't believe they couldn't find out who did it but they'll find out. The person that did something like this should be caught," he said.

"I'm glad. I hope they do find out who it is. It would really ease a lot of people's minds and I know it would for his kids. I hope they really find out who did this," Johnson added.

At the time Kirby Smith was killed, it was reported he was going through a bitter divorce but police have never shed any light on a motive in the murder.

The Columbus Police Department's Cold Case Squad investigates between 16 and 18 homicides, dating back to the 1970s.

Two weeks ago, they made a break in the case of Shawnita Campbell, nearly 12 years after the crime.

The 24-year-old was found dead in a field in southeast Columbus back in 1999.

At the time, police say Michael York Miller was identified as a suspect in Campbell's murder but they never had enough to charge him.

Last year, Campbell's mother contacted the Cold Case Squad and requested that the case be reopened.

Detectives say they tracked down witnesses who were finally willing to point to Miller as the killer. Police say he shot Campbell in the head during an argument inside a car on Coolidge Avenue and dumped her body in the field, a mile away.

He was arrested in Ohio and extradited to Columbus, charged with murder.

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