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Man Pleads Guilty to His Role in St. Albans Murder

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE: Tuesday August 24 12 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A man has pleaded guilty to getting rid of evidence after a murder.

Joseph Hardwick admitted he got paid 50 dollars to get rid of a car after Stacie Smith was murdered last December.

Timothy Sutherland was charged with killing Smith in her home in St. Albans. Sutherland is scheduled to go on trial in September.

Hardwick faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced in October.



UPDATE: Friday
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A second arrest has been made in connection to the murder of a young mother.

24-year-old Joseph Daniel Hardwick from Putnam County was arrested Friday. He’s charged with accessory after the fact to murder of Stacie Smith.

After Timothy Sutherland was arrested Wednesday and charged with the Smith's murder, investigators learned Hardwick may have had knowledge of Sutherland’s actions the day Smith was found dead in her home.

Hardwick was arraigned on the charge Friday evening and is being held in the Western Regional Jail.



UPDATE: Thursday
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- St. Albans Police have confirmed that Timothy Sutherland has been arrested in connection with the death of Stacie Smith.

Sutherland has been charged with first degree murder. He was actually arrested on charges of failing to register as a sex offender Tuesday night after police named him a "person of interest" in the case.

Smith's father found her dead in her home on Carson Street on Monday. Her 3-year-old son was in the house with her -- but was unharmed.

Sutherland was arraigned on the charges and apologized to the cameras surrounding him outside the courthouse.

"I am truly sorry. I didn't mean for it to happen," said Sutherland.

WSAZ has a crew at the Kanawha County courthouse. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for more information.



UPDATE: Wednesday afternoon
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A search warrant filed in the murder investigation of Stacie Smith offers more details about the death of the 32-year-old mother from St. Albans.

According to the warrant filed in Kanawha County, Stacie's father, John Paul, went to the Carson Street home to check on his daughter at the request of Stacie's mother because she never showed up to pick up her daughter at a friend's house.

The complaint states that Paul was able to get his three-year-old grandson to unlock the back door of the home Monday afternoon. When he got inside, he discovered Stacie lying face down in the kitchen in a large pool of blood. There were blood stains in the master bedroom and the door frame where she was lying; and on the living room wall, an explicit message was written.

The search warrant also states that investigators searched a room at the America's Best Value Inn and Suites in St. Albans. That's where Stacie was staying with Timothy Sutherland before she moved to her home on Carson Street. Stacie still had belongings there, but police did not gather any evidence there to help in the investigation.

Inside the Carson Street home, the search warrant states that based on witness statements, Stacie and other people inside the home were using illegal drugs.

29-year-old Timothy Sutherland of Nitro has been arrested in Putnam County on charges he failed to register as a sex offender. Those charges are not related to this case.



UPDATE: Wednesday morning
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- St. Albans Police say a person of interest in connection with the killing of Stacie Smith was questioned Tuesday night.

29-year-old Timothy Sutherland of Nitro was arrested on charges of failing to register as a sex offender in Putnam County. Police say he is not a suspect; they just wanted to talk to him about what he may know about Smith's murder.

According the West Virginia State Police online sex offender registry, Sutherland was convicted of 3rd Degree Sexual Assault and served more than two years in prison and given 20 years probation. The victim was a 13 to 17-year-old girl.

Meanwhile, a grieving family is holding out hope for answers. Smith was just 32 years old and had two children.

She was found dead in her home in St. Albans Monday afternoon.

Smith's family and friends talked with us Tuesday evening. With no arrests in the case, they are struggling to understand all of this.

"I honestly feel numb, like it's not really real,” Smith’s mother Marlene Hardwick said. “I just can't believe it. It's like I'm gonna wake up and it's not gonna be for real."

Leanne McDaniels and Stacie Smith had been friends since they were in first grade.

The lifelong friendship came to an abrupt end Monday. Smith's father stopped by the home and found his daughter murdered. Smith's 3-year-old son was inside.

"He doesn't really know anything,” McDaniels said. “Yesterday he was saying ‘Stacie's dead.’ He doesn't understand. Her seven-year-old daughter knows, and she's taking it really bad, but he was there and he just told his grandpa that Mommy was sleeping. So he's three, he doesn't understand. Hopefully he'll never remember anything."

Friends and family say Smith loved children. She coached little league cheerleading and was very protective with her own kids, who will now have to grow up without her.

"Her kids have to live the rest of their lives with no mom,” McDaniels said, “and her mother has to live without a daughter, because somebody took it upon themselves to take somebody else's life."

Now the family is just hoping to find answers and closure.

"I hope they catch them really soon,” McDaniels said. “Why Stacie? She's never done nothing to nobody. We want them brought to justice."

“Anybody that knows anything just call,” Hardwick said. “Her daughter that's seven years old wants to know who killed her mommy."



UPDATE from 10pm Tuesday
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- St. Albans Police tell us they are looking for a person of interest in the killing of Stacie Smith.

His name is Timothy Sutherland. Police say he is not a suspect; they just want to talk to him about what he may know about Smith's murder.

Meanwhile, Smith's family and friends say they can't understand why anyone would murder Stacie. They say she was a warm, loving woman who adored children. She coached a little league cheerleading squad in St. Albans and was very caring with her own kids.

Friends say Smith had been taking her kids to church and was providing a good life for them. They'd just moved last week into the house along Carson Street.

Stacie's loved ones are pleading that if you know any information that can help investigators solve this case, please call the St. Albans Police Department and share it.



UPDATE from 6pm Tuesday
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police say a 3-year-old boy was home with his mother when she was murdered Monday, and counselors say there are things the family can do now to help ease him through what is a life-changing, traumatic event.

Jeff Bryson is the director of clinical services at Family Counseling Connections.

"Three-year-olds can be very resilient," Bryson said. "But at the same time, we have to remember that that's when we were all scared of the boogie man ... If this child witnessed a murder, he actually came into contact (in) his mind (with) who would be the monster under the bed."

It's not clear what -- if anything -- the toddler saw. But investigators say he was home when the violent act against his mother, 32-year-old Stacie Smith, was committed.

Bryson says it's important for adults dealing with children who witness traumatic events to "cut a child some slack, they have to be flexible, understand this child is going to have different behaviors, and not respond as though this child is abnormal."

Those behaviors can be withdrawing, acting out, or using play as a chance to reenact what they witnessed. He also says it's important not to force a child to relive or talk about an event, but rather let them go through the process naturally.

"Trust that children will show the warning signs," Bryson said. "They aren't like adults. We try to hide things. Three-year-olds, if they are trying to hide something, they are not so good about it. You know that they are going inward. So you know there is something that needs to be addressed."

Bryson says counseling will help. Also establishing early life skills such as eating right, as well as exercise and hobbies, are all keys to a productive and less disrupted adulthood.

"We can strengthen ourselves because when bad things happen, or when intrusive memories come back, we are stronger to be able to respond to them," Bryson said.



ORIGINAL STORY
ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Police in St. Albans are investigating what they're calling a homicide.

Officers say a man found his daughter, 32-year-old Stacie Smith, dead inside her home in the 200-block of Carson Street Monday afternoon. He went to check on her because he had not heard from her. She had only lived there for about a week.

Smith's 3-year-old son was also found in the house, according to investigators. Police say the child appeared to be fine and he's now staying at a relative's house.

Police tracked down a vehicle in the West Side of St. Albans that is believed to be connected with the crime, but no information has been released about that.

Detectives are in the process of getting search warrants for the home and vehicle.

Police are not releasing any other information at this time. The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department has been called to the scene to assist with the investigation.

Neighbors tell WSAZ.com that a family was seen moving into that same house on Christmas day.

If you have a photo of Stacie that you'd like to share with us, please e-mail it to: pix@wsaz.com

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for more information.


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