Aiken community reacts to teacher killing

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News 12 at 11, April 27, 2007

AIKEN, S.C. --- Neighbors on Whitney Drive say it's a safe neighborhood. But their sense of peace was shattered Friday, when a middle school teacher and mother of three was found stabbed to death in her own home.

"It's quiet. I never hear of any problems. I mean this is a total shock pretty much to everybody," Pastor Gerald Reiter said.

The Aiken County Coroner said 47-year-old Ann Smith died sometime early Friday morning. Her body was found hours later by her coworkers. Investigators said they went to her house to check on Ann after she failed to show up for work.

"A shock, I guess. A surprise, especially, you know because we knew her son," Reiter said.

Pastor Gerald Reiter knew Smith's son Wilson who was once a member of his church's youth group. Officers said Smith was married, but estranged from her husband. He's been questioned along with a lot of other people who knew Ann Smith. Investigators have not named a suspect, but they haven't cleared anyone either.

"We have spoke to the husband and a number of the children last night. Of course, dealing with this tragedy themselves. And we'll continue to investigate, from family, to friends, to co-workers. Anyone that might lead us a suspect in this case," Lt. David Turno said.

And not only was she a mother, but she was a special education teacher at Kennedy Middle School for almost 20 years. Pastor Reiter said it will be hard for the students going to school, knowing their teacher won't be there.

"That's going to shake them up. There's no question about that. They probably all know by now," Reiter said.

Smith was stabbed many times according to Saturday's autopsy. We know evidence was found inside Smith's house but investigators aren't saying what that evidence is. They are saying there were no signs of forced entry, and nothing was missing from the home. Investigators are not releasing if anyone had access to the home. A home that is now empty and a reminder to the community of what Ann's family, friends and students have lost.

"I'm going to drop a note to the one I know up in Clemson. And tell him I'm sorry. You know keep him in our prayers," Reiter said.

Lt. David Turno said they are working to put together a timeline. He also said there are no suspects at this time. If you have any information on this murder. Call the Aiken Department of Public Safety at 803-642-7620. You can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

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