SARASOTA COUNTY – Authorities have charged a 38-year-old man with attacking at least five women in their homes during a series of nearly a dozen home invasions that left the region on edge for months.
Delmer Smith III, who is from Michigan but has lived recently in Bradenton, Venice and North Port, has been charged with several crimes, including home invasion, false imprisonment and sexual battery, authorities said at a press conference today.
Smith is a possible suspect in several other cases, including the April 5 murder of Georgann Smith, 37, in her home in the 2100 block of Jo-An Drive in south Sarasota; he has not been charged in that crime.
Smith’s arrest culminates a long investigation by multiple agencies across the region. He was located as a suspect after a violent bar fight in Venice in early September, where his involvement triggered officials to begin looking into Smith as a suspect in several crimes.
Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight announced Smith’s arrest in connection with the local attacks at a press conference this afternoon. Representatives from several other agencies were present.
Authorities say Smith stalked women, scouting their homes, and waiting until they were alone before attacking. Some were tied up, gagged and beaten, more from this source…………………
Manatee county authorities believe Smith may also have been the attacker in home invasions and other assaults in unincorporated Manatee and the city of Bradenton.
Bradenton Police Department Deputy Chief William Tokajer said Smith is a suspect in the Feb. 16 attack on a 52-year-old female jogger near Riverview Boulevard, and an April 20 home invasion on 32nd Street Northwest in which a couple in their early 60s were bound and beaten.
Steube said his detectives are investigating whether Smith was responsible for three home invasions in unincorporated Manatee.
Delmer Smith III, 38, was arrested Sept. 10 on a federal warrant for a violation of probation after a bar fight in Venice, and he was subsequently linked to four home invasions:
Feb. 22 at 3534 Osage Terrace
March 7 at 1946 Bougainvillea Street
March 14 at 5240 Carmilfra Way
May 26 at 20 Whispering Sands Drive
They also are examining possible connections between Smith and the slaying of Briles in her Terra Ceia home on Aug. 3.
Law enforcement in Manatee and in Sarasota have been working together to investigate a string of as many as 11 home invasions and other attacks. In most of the incidents, the victims were women, more from this source………….
Smith has a lengthy history of crime. He was released from federal prison in Michigan in September of 2008 after being convicted of armed bank robbery. He served 15 years of a 54-year sentence.
He then married a woman he had been communicating with in Bradenton. Detectives think he lived in Bradenton until he was involved in a nasty bar fight. “He did not get arrested from the bar fight, but the violence involved in the bar fight in our community was notable. We did just not ever have anybody that was that violent over nothing in a bar fight,” says Julie Williams of the Venice Police Department.
The home invasions in Sarasota and Manatee counties happened over a four-month period from February to May but then the crimes with the same pattern seemed to stop (May 26th). Authorities are not sure why, but speculate that Smith might have moved and could be responsible for crime in other jurisdictions. Smith is not a suspect in the recent murder of Kathleen Briles during a home invasion in her Terra Ceia home, authorities said.
Friday, May 29, 2009, SARASOTA HOME INVASIONS PROFILED BY PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR BILL WARNER, THE PERP HAS MADE NO MISTAKES; The attacker in the Home Invasions in Sarasota and Bradenton Fl has been described by victims as a white male, 5′10″ to 6′ 0″ tall, about 175 to 185 lbs, dark hair, speaks in street slang, some victims thought he was black by the way he talks, he wears a black ski mask, long sleeve shirts, gloves and has made statements that he robs to feed a crack cocaine habit. Usually in serial attacker cases like this, the Sarasota male perp would have recently moved into the area (Jan 2009) and had numerous prior address’s around the country, a drifter. The Sarasota male perp would be single and living alone (loner no friends), he would be 35 to 53 years of age and he appears to work outside in the day time, working the Sarasota neighborhoods as he blends in. Delmer Smith III fits the description to a tee !