A man arrested as a suspect in the strangulation death of his 81 year old aunt in Manchester this week was convicted less than a year ago in a DeKalb County arson case.
49 year old Jeffery Owen Smithson pleaded guilty last September in DeKalb County Criminal Court to arson and received a three year sentence. He was given credit for time served and was placed on probation for the balance of the sentence. Smithson was ordered to make restitution and stay away from the victims in the case. He was given jail credit of 432 days from July 15th, 2009 to September 20th, 2010.
In the Manchester case, officers found 81-year-old Virginia White strangled in her home along Woodbury Highway around 8 p.m. Wednesday. Smithson had reportedly been staying with her, but he was not there when police arrived. Mrs. White's car was also gone.
The Manchester Times reports that Manchester Police in cooperation with Cannon County authorities apprehended Smithson at approximately 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon in the Ivy Bluff area of Cannon County.
Cannon County authorities spotted the 1989 Mercury Marquis that Smithson was alleged to be traveling in and called Manchester authorities.
Manchester Police Department investigators and Cannon County authorities approached the vehicle which was parked in the woods next to a bean field and found Smithson inside the vehicle. Smithson surrendered without incident after he was spotted sitting in the driver's seat of Mrs. White's 1989 Mercury Marquis.
Investigators said White recently took Smithson into her home to help him get back on his feet.
Reports say a concerned neighbor asked police to look in on the woman, and she was found beaten to death in the back bedroom of the house Wednesday night.
In the DeKalb County arson case, Sheriff Patrick Ray said detectives had been investigating Smithson for theft from a mobile home on Stoner Road near the Rollertown Road in the southern part of the county and through that investigation Smithson became a suspect in the arson case. He was charged on July 28th, 2009. Smithson allegedly went to the mobile home on June 28th, 2009, broke into the residence, and stole items from there. Smithson then allegedly set fire to the residence and fled. The fire caused extensive damage to the home.