The allegation is shocking: Colorado Springs Police believe Marcus Smith, 21, killed Kathryn "Kit" Grazioli, an 87-year-old former church deacon, and burned her body.
This act contrasts strongly with an apology letter he wrote in regard to the theft of a computer and DVDs two years ago.
The Colorado Springs Gazette reports that since 2003, Smith has been busted fourteen times on counts related to burglary and theft, with many of the suspected crimes taking place in the neighborhood where both he and Grazioli lived. At the time of his arrest on Friday, he was also scheduled for a December arraignment on a misdemeanor assault charge in relation to an incident on Halloween.
But a 2009 robbery suggests that Smith had some level of regret in relation to his activities on the wrong side of the law -- at least until his attempt to make amends backfired.
On October 22 of that year, according to an affidavit obtained by the Gazette, a man living on Quail Lake Road discovered that a laptop and around 300 DVDs had been stolen. The items were later tracked to a pawn shop and a used video-disc retail outlet.
Cut to two months later, when Smith showed up at his door. The man thought he was a door-to-door salesman and told him he didn't have time for a sales pitch. But as it turned out, Smith was in a giving mood: The homeowner subsequently discovered that $50 in cash had been left on a table near his main entrance, along with a letter that began, "Hi, it's Marcus from earlier today."
Following an admission of guilt in the theft, the letter acknowledged that "fifty dollars isn't a lot, but it's all the money I had to my name. So, I also took it upon myself to sweep the leaves off your door and if you need anything else just call me..."
How to do so? Smith, who claimed in the note to be a "new man," left his phone number.
Rather than dialing those digits, the homeowner phoned the cops. Before long, officers tracked down Smith at a home about half-a-mile from the one he'd robbed.
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Turns out this abode was about the same distance from where Grazioli lived, and may have died. (Thus far, details about her death haven't been made public.) And it's where Smith was arrested on Friday, two days after Grazioli's scorched remains were found on Lower Captain Jack's Trailhead.
Look below to see a larger shot of Smith's booking photo.
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More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Capitol Hill assaults up 30% as victim wonders where cops went (Hint: Occupy Denver)."