Growing up in Prison – The Eric Smith Story

Sometimes I pity children who kill and abuse other children. I pity children of rage who become entangled with the law. It appears that the vast majority of these unlikely murderers are survivors of a house of horrors or another form of environmental abuse. On the extreme end, torturing and murdering other children repeats their own experiences momentarily releases rage. Children of rage are frequently victims of abuse but it may not necessarily be physical or sexual.  Neglect, witnessing domestic violence, living in a poor community are factors that play a strong role in child pathology. watch 1940s juvenile delinquency
In the next video, child killers are trained by Muslims worldwide to persecute Jews. The children are victims of brainwashing, rather than abuse. The parallel between abused children who kill and Muslim children is in the training: the abused child is not instructed in the “art” of murder, but the abuse trains the child to vent his rage on his victims in the same manner and method as the abusers. watch training children to kill

Youth who have lived in dysfunctional homes often revert to childlike behaviours without notice: an adult might tell the youth not to use bad language and the latter erupts into a catastrophic temper tantrum, hurling objects and screaming obscenities. Most children do not want to behave in this manner. They cannot control their rages; their rages control them. The angry child or youth is a prisoner of her or his own anger. watch takedown tantrum taped

Families are also controlled by a child’s rage.  Eventually abused or neglected children can become violent towards their parents and siblings and, at a loss to communicate with the child, the latter learn to live around the child’s pathology. They accept and deny their child’s abnormal behaviour. watch little criminals part 6 of 10

Eric Smith was a child of 13 when he committed his first and last child murder. Baby-faced and red-haired, as a toddler, Smith often had temper tantrums and banged his head on the floor. Smith was diagnosed as having intermittent explosive disorder, a mental disorder causing individuals to act out violently and unpredictably. Like Jesse Pomeroy, another American child killer, Smith was a loner, often tormented by bullies for his protruding low-set ears, thick glasses, red hair and freckles. His mother stated, “I just told him he had to learn to stick up for himself.” A court psychiatrist claimed intermittent explosive disorder disagreed and stated intermittent disorder“is a rare disorder hardly seen at [Eric’s] age.”

He had a speech impediment and was held back a year in school, more factors that affected the child’s self-esteem. Ted Smith stated his unhappy son frequently said “I don’t know I guess I’m just stupid.” As a teenager, the friendless boy was seen pedaling around town for hours on end — alone. Smith was adopted by his family and like Ted Bundy, the serial killer who was deceived into thinking his mother was his sister, Smith never felt a real connection with his family. He was occasionally abused physically by his distant father, who was unequipped to help Smith deal with his anger: “I had a little hot temper myself so it’s hard to say. There’s a lot of  things I say; kick their butts up over their shoulder…. I’d swat them upside the head.”

It was August 2, 1993 when 4 year-old Derrick Robie was walking alone to a summer camp in rural Steuben County, New York. Smith encountered the unfortunate boy and reportedly led Robie to a remote location where he tortured and murdered the child. Smith strangled and pummeled Robie with rocks then sodomized the child post-mortem with a tree limb. He dropped two large rocks on Robie’s head, which were determined to be the young boy’s cause of death with contributing asphyxia. He went into Robie’s lunch bag, smashed a banana and took Robie’s red Kool Aid, pouring it into the wound in Robie’s head. Had he the means, the desecration of the corpse would have continued. watch derrick robie’s story

Earlier in the day that Robie died, Smith was overwhelmed by emotional torment and begged his father, Ted Smith, to help him control his emotions.  “I want to hurt someone.” His father ignored his son’s obvious distress and gave him the flippant answer that as a child whenever he got angry, he “grabbed a bag in our barn and I’d just start beating on it until I was too tired to do anything else. I heard our door shut. I turned around and he was gone and as I got to the window he was coming back in the door and he was calm. And I looked down and I noticed his hands and his knuckles were kind of skinned up and bloody. And I asked him what happened and he said I hit the tree a couple of times. Seemed to be okay.” 

Unbeknownst to Ted, had Smith left the house on his bicycle and eventually would encounter Derrick Robie. After the murder, Smith returned home quite calm. No one suspected he had just savagely murdered a 4-year-old boy. Instead Smith told his father he “felt better now.” watch derrick robie short

Four days after the murder, Smith visited a police station to see if he could assist in solving the crime. Investigator John Hibsch had no idea the murderer was seated across a table from him. Smith gleefully informed John that he found Robie’s body in an open field. Naturally alarm bells went off for Hibsch. When he asked Smith where he had last seen the child, Smith’s demeanor suddenly changed. He clenched his fists and growled, “you think I did it, don’t you?” At one point in the interview, the detective deliberately brought Smith a glass of red Kool-Aid. Smith reacted violently and threw it on the floor.

Smith eventually asked a family friend “what would happen if it turned out to be a kid?” The woman replied ,”I think he would seriously need psychiatric help.” This wasn’t the answer Smith sought; clearly he wanted to know what the legal repercussions would be for a child who had killed another child. 5 days after killing little Robie, Smith admitted to his family that he was the killer.  They sat down with Smith and begged him to tell them what happened.  Tammy cried and asked Smith why he killed Derrick Robie and Smith wept in reply, “I don’t know, I don’t know.” watch young killer gives first-ever interview

ericSoon after, Smith was arrested and charged with Robie’s death. His lawyer, Kevin Bradley claimed Smith was not to blame because he “suffered from a very serious mental disease.” During the trial, Smith’s face was “eerily blank and showed no emotion.” The jury didn’t buy the defense’ argument and Smith was found guilty of Robie’s murder. After Smith’s sentencing of 9 years in prison to life, Ted and Tammy Smith were devastated. They felt Smith was sick and didn’t deserve to be sent to prison. Neither parent took any responsibility for Smith’s behaviour.

After 11 years in prison, Smith, aged 24, claimed that his family life was abusive, and just as devastating as the bullies who taunted him at school. However Smith insisted he had never been sexually abused. He finally explained why he killed Robie. “If I could go back in time and switch places with Derrick and endure all the pain I ‘ve caused him. If it meant that he’d go on living I’d switch places. But I can’t….After quite a few years of verbal abuse and having been told that I’m nothing I shut down my feelings….the damage was done….I believed I was going to hell. Because that’s what it was for me. It was hell.”

Strangely, Smith began speaking in the third person about his crime: “It all adds up til it gets to the point where the individual cannot take anymore. After a while they may cope in a horrific way, take their emotional rage out on someone who had done nothing to bring on such violence, like Derrick [the first and last time Smith mentioned the child’s name]. Not because they’re evil or Satanic little kids. It’s because they want the abuse to stop and it’s the only way they know how to.” Smith doesn’t take ownership of his crime, referring to himself as if he was speaking for other people using terms such as the individual and they. Smith explained further, “those kids who do these crimes endure years of abuse whether at school, at home, or both. I had issues at home but I’m not going to talk about that.”

Smith’s words are somewhat impressive but there are problems with his address to the press. He has no emotion when he briefly discusses little Robie. He doesn’t express remorse, he merely explains the crime. As mentioned above, he speaks about “kids” as if he is referring to someone else and not himself, indicating personal detachment from his crime. He hasn’t tried to contact the Robie family. These are disturbing signs that Smith hasn’t truly repented and perhaps never will.

Evidence arose over the years that Smith’s stepsister, Stacy, was sexually abused by Ted Smith. “He molested me. I’d want to know if he was molested. There had been something bothering him. Sometimes I think he saw my stepdad’s face when he did it.” However there was no evidence that Smith was sexually abused. Smith himself told the parole board there was no abuse.

ENLARGE_01esDuring a parole hearing Smith explained that he had changed, that he wanted to be a forensic psychologist and counsel children who bully other children. He sees himself as an “asset to society.” However his explanation for why he killed little Robie didn’t match the statement he had read to the press. He stated, “instead of me being hurt I was hurting somebody else.” In other words, the relief he gets from his low self-esteem is to hurt or kill someone else. It is this point of contention that the parole board refuses to overlook. In spite of his future ambition, parole was denied.  Smith might be able to speak with youth while he is incarcerated, a la Beyond Scared Straight, but if he has attempted to do so, he hasn’t mentioned it. Looking at the chronological pictures of Smith over the decades one thing is immediately apparent: he bears the same non-descript facial expression in all of his photographs. He is devoid of emotion.

Parole hearings for Eric Smith are held every 2 years. He has been denied parole at every hearing.

watch identifying different psychopaths

watch little criminals 1 of 10

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53 Responses to Growing up in Prison – The Eric Smith Story

  1. Pingback: Growing up in Prison – The Eric Smith Story | ~Misery

  2. Stacy says:

    I will not criticize what you have written, however I know more truth to this story that what I see here. I’m not sure where you got your information, but some of it is stated untrue to an extent! He was not from a completely adopted situation. Ted, Eric’s adoptive/step father…..was the only non blood relative in the family. Eric’s mother was officially eric’s birth mother, eric’s sisters were blood as well. His older sister was full blood sister, yet once adopted….either or shall I say all kids didn’t know he was adopted until soon before murder occurred! Also, the interview process, was not about eric going to ask to help….he didn’t initially find the body that led to discovering Derrick either…..If you would like better detail for your story please contact me!!! I’m a true insider! And would LOVE to have my side of the story told….as for the parts you may need here!

    • gothrules says:

      Thanks for the input. I find his case to be very interesting as well.

    • Mabel says:

      Stacy ! I totally agree with you ! I hope Eric will get he’s parole this year ! He has been punished enought !

      • TBB says:

        May you someday have a beautiful, innocent 4 y/o child savagely murdered and sodomized so you can know the true devastation of some crazed little lunatic ruining your life forever.

      • gothrules says:

        I don’t believe that kind of response is necessary. It most certainly is inhumane and no better than what Eric did to Derrick.

      • Amber says:

        U r just as sick as him

      • mame says:

        He will never be punished enough he needs to rot in prison

    • Pam says:

      He sodomized a 4 yr. old come on what is your problem … This is where he belongs ! Every day he gets it think up all the excuses he can for what humanity knows is unjust
      Derricks parents are the victims in this not Eric lots of kids are bullied but do not sodomize and kill because of it .

  3. Stacy says:

    No disrespect meant either!

  4. Fahren says:

    He sodomized a 4 year old with a tree limb…I don’t think anyone could be punished enough! Really poor choice of words.

  5. Michael says:

    Those who say he should be freed. Would you want him next door to you? Also if he killed your child would you want him to be set free?

    • Mabel says:

      I will not be afraid Eric living next to me or even living with me . Forgive it’s a greatest Donation . I have read many victim’s family interview most of them hate what the thing happend but not hating the offender they will leave it to the judge . Example texas seven killed the police officer , Levi Kings’s case .

      • donald says:

        You are nutz.

      • marilyn4ever says:

        I have to say I wouldn’t live with or next door to a killer. It’s one thing to forgive, quite another to forget. In this case, you cannot forget murder.

  6. mary doric says:

    Looking to get a hold of someone in admin.
    I have information I want to share – Contact me

  7. matt says:

    This kid committed a terrible crime. Had he been an adult, it would probably have been unforgiveable. Many people relate only to the victim, which is fine, but this offender was a little kid himself afterall. Knowing he has been in prison all these years, i actually feel for him. If he was bullied in the streets, you can be assured he was and probably still is victimized in prison.
    The public has two choices, he can be locked up till the day he dies, or someday he can be released and supervised. I’ve seen interviews with Eric Smith as a young adult and i get the feeling that he understands just what a horrible thing he did.
    So, do we punish him for every day of his life, or do we try to forgive and give him a second chance??
    From what i’ve seen, and taking into account his age at the time of his crime, i vote for parole.
    It’s not like they can’t throw him back… And for pretty much any reason.

    • marilyn4ever says:

      I’m inclined to agree with you. However, if he gets out and repeats the crime then that “second chance” would have been a horrid mistake.

    • kelly says:

      I was bullied and abused by my parents as a child. And im a female. This is why our society is deteriorating. Stop enabling what u cant grasp

  8. Latoya says:

    I’m watching this now on #killerkids and my heart goes out to little Derek’s family this murderer should be on death row

  9. Donna says:

    I agree. I just saw that eposide on KillerKids as well, then read the responses above and have to agree with Pam and Fahren and others – Eric belongs in lock-up and should never be parolled. He’ll get the attention he desired as a child in the psych ward and the professionals can get their much needed study of these disturbed individuals. Hopefully a lesson can be learned from Eric and perhaps some day we can recognize what our kids need BEFORE they torture and kill others.

    • marilyn4ever says:

      I agree with that statement that we need to give our kids what they need before they commit heinous crimes. Clearly there is something dreadful happening at home, I don’t believe strictly in heredity although there may be a component there.

  10. Zac says:

    First of all I think every day that Eric wakes up and realizes what he did is punishment but he should have to do that in prison and under control for that is the exact thing he took from little Derrick. Don’t you think derrick and his family wish he could wake up every day and have a life? A life for a life… If Derrick can’t have that second chance why should Eric? Also I think part of this blame should be put on Eric’s family. If he was being abused by the bullying of his peers his family should of been his crutch and stability. If they were there for him and loved him, this probably would of never happened! He was taken to his breaking point as a young kid and made a really bad decision that could if been helped in my opinion. I don’t think he had any kind of medical problems which is exactly what the parole board thinks every two years. If they believed he did, Eric would of been sent away or put into a mental hospital. It’s a shame these things happen I think he is getting exactly what he deserves. I’m not here to judge him but carma is!

  11. Zade Lanston says:

    you have no idea what your talking about woman, eric’s a psychopath he’s playing the remorse card to get out of prison not because he actually cares. I hope eric’s really popular with the big guys at prison.

    • marilyn4ever says:

      I’m quite convinced I do know what I’m talking about, man. I don’t believe he’s filled with remorse because I believe this man has become a psychopath and probably did in his childhood years. It’s the childhood abuse that I feel pity for, not the mask Eric now wears to try to get out of prison. You need to read more carefully.

  12. Tina a says:

    Not saying its right what he did but how are you people going to say he deserves to be abused in jail? Its up to God to judge him not you. I’m not sticking up for him for what he did. If he really is sorry and is never going to do it again and has changed his ways doesnt he deserve a chance? I

    • J.T. says:

      Yeah, well that’s just it Tina a. How do we know with absolute certainty that he won’t do it again? How do we know for certain that he has changed his ways? Do you have some irrefutable proof of that? Would you want him out and living next door to you? I wouldn’t. What if he had murdered your child? Perhaps you’d feel differently. That’s the reason he is continually denied parole. Obviously, the parole board does not feel that he has atoned for what he did or that he truly feels any remorse for it. He is where he belongs and should stay there. At least his parents can go visit him in prison. All Derrick Robie’s parents have to visit is a gravesite.

      • Judy patterson says:

        Agreed he st I’ll lives the other little boy can’t get cards or mail from his mom, butt don’t do the death penalty as that’s his easy way out and not suffer any longer ,

    • Nadanenada Nadanenada says:

      Please! until the God himself show us the punishment, let the society punish the sickoes.
      In the mean time just try to hold your breath silly.

  13. JamesReddison says:

    that man deserve to be in prison for ever and I hope he dies in prison. for what he did to a 4 year old boy. that little boy got a future in front of him.

  14. Fair Isaac says:

    Such lack of human compassion is truly saddening. Everyone keeps putting themselves in Derrick’s parents shoes but noone wants to consider being Ted Smith. Ted, who dismissed Eric the morning of the murder when he was screaming, crying, and couldn’t handle being the freckle faced ginger riding his bike around alone again. Ted, who’s adopted son murdered another boy after he didn’t have time to talk to him. Ted, who’s now watched that boy become a man in prison for the last 21 years experiencing his 16th, 18th, 21st, 25th, and 30th birthdays all behind walls.

    I feel for both families- that rage and heartache from the Robies as well as the despair and shame from the Smiths. However, psychopath, what are you basing his psychosis on? Eric never abused animals, never lashed out on people, and hasn’t had a single incident in prison. The one day he snapped and committed a brutal murder? Have you never made a mistake? Sure, it’s one hell of a mistake to have made but to wish some of the things some of you have said on him is deplorable.

    Do I think he should be released? No. You can’t release someone who is now a prisoner in their brain. Like it or not, he cannot function in regular society anymore, he may be useful as some kind of counselor for young inmates, but to release him to society would be a mistake- not just for society but also for him. How quickly we forget it’s called a Correctional Facility- whats the point of that if we don’t believe we can correct behaviors?

    • Jayde says:

      I can understand what your saying and I agree with you ! I’m not here to judge anyone or what happened , Eric isn’t the only child killer to kill another child .. 2 teenagers in the UK killed a toddler they served their time and were released ! As for poor little Derek sad that his life was taken away so young ! Life goes on though ! I do hope that Eric can do some good with what he’s been studying and I do hope he finds the love for himself in prison .. And no need for smart comment !! Everyone is entitled to have an opinion ! This is mine like it or not !

  15. I'mALiberal says:

    I would never give somebody like this another chance. He’s a psychopath and what bothers me most is little Derrick, who was only 4 at the time will never get a second chance. So why should his murderer?

    • jezmyopinion says:

      I’m surprised Derick was walking to camp alone at the age of 4.
      I hope Eric is never paroled.
      He’s missing things that cannot be gained or corrected. Empathy, sympathy and a conscious.

  16. JamesReddison says:

    that animal who killed a 4-year-old, 22 years ago, Eric deserves to be in jail for a very long time. Poor Robie, if he was alive he will be 26-27, poor kid, Eric Smith, deserves to die in jail.

  17. i have a 14 years old son, he already knows what is right or wrong…this kid maybe was short but he knew that he was committing a crime he wasnt just curious…he choke the kid…then he smashed his head….it wasnt a one min mental breakdown…it took a while…he had no respect no remorse no doubts…then he went to the police…just to get attention….his brain is not going to change in a milliom years…

    • helthnut says:

      I tend to agree with you. There is no way a person cannot know that an act of violence is an act of violence, especially when Eric clearly meant to kill this little boy.

  18. Duk Han says:

    This very impress story for the movie would have done on article for lost kid when murder has happened. Parents are for the fault although no excuse when adopt such young child. So sad for many ways and feel sad for family too since they do not love to him since today. Very sad for them and small child and I hope a better place is for him not in this bad place not meant for poor child never got to live his life and vey sad. I pray for Derrick in a better place and heaven await for him. Soo sad, poor Derrick i’m sorry.

    • Micfilly says:

      There is a lot written wrong here. About Eric Ted and Tammy. About the day of the murder. My name is casey monahan lived on church st in Savona. stood trial against Eric. I was 9 years old. I was with Eric that day he we left his house. I saw Derrick leave his house. Ted smith was friends with my father. Ted and Tammy baby sat me. My heart has always gone out to Dale and Doreen and wish I could hug you guys! ! To this day it makes me cry. It destroyed me. They don’t want to grant him parole. Cause I will be standing outside those gates…..I’m sorry aunt Tammy..I miss you i stopped by years ago. No one was there on the west side. And i never heard of uncle teds passing till after the funeral. I felt awful. Love you. Dale aunt Tammy if you read this please find a way to contact me!

      • Stacy says:

        Casey – email me at – I’ll get you in touch with Tammy. There is also a Facebook Group for Derrick that you may be able to contact Dale through! Believe me when I say, this has affected me in many many ways as well – being his sister and all – but I will not, let this define me. I am better than that and well – get ahold of me we will catch up! – Stacy

  19. Cj says:

    Be careful what you wish for.another child killer was “supposedly rehabilitated” from the time he served for a gruesome murder.the psychiatrist board said he was fine to go back and be a productive citizen In the community.over the next 7 years he went on to kill and dismember 10 women driving around the country.

  20. Marc esposito says:

    I was in Mt McGregor correctional facility with this lowlife piece off shit. He draws cartoon pornos and is in the bathroom all day. He has the mentality off a 14 year old. He hasaid 2 be next 2 the C.O. bubble wherever he sleeps. I hope he never sees the daylight for what he did 2 that little boy and the family as well. Eric can live in a medium security pen 4 the rest off his days were he gets 35lbs off a package a month and that’s what he deserves. I’ve been with mass murderer who deserve 2 be home way more then this piece off shit. I hope you rot in hell u piece off shut and get torchered. R.I.H. Eric Smith. That’s were you will be when your judged. And whoever doesnt like what I’ve said you can go 2 hell with him

  21. T. B. says:

    He deserves to be in prison no doubt about that. But I still have to question why would a 4 yr old walk by himself anywhere? I’m definitely not saying that justifies him being murdered. I’m just very puzzled that’s all.

  22. Key key says:

    I’m also a little curious why a four year old was walking alone not that it justifies murder by any means. It was only a few years after Jaycee Dugard was kidnapped in broad daylight. Also, crime was very high in the early 90s, streets would be safer to walk today in comparison. I don’t really understand why people think it was safer back then, but I guess constant news bombardment, the Internet, and globalization can make things seem worse. Even so, it’s horrible what took place.

    I gave to agree that Eric would probably be incapable of functioning in society at this point due to the amount of time he has spent behind bars. There are people that have spent less time and served for petty crimes that have trouble adjusting back into society so it’s hard to imagine he would be able to. Also, if you compare him to Veneables and Thompson, British child killers, you do have to wonder if it doesn’t benefit society to keep them locked up. Veneables has used a lot of his country’s tax payer money for new identities for his own safety and went on to have to serve time in jail after release due to possessing child porn. Then you have Thompson, who has mysteriously vanished, apparently melding well with his new identity.

    Anyway, it is very unfortunate and extremely sad at such loss of young life. Very heartbreaking in different ways for both families, I’m sure.

  23. bud says:

    I was Eric’s drinking buddy before he killed the boy.

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