Alisa Maier abduction suspect Paul Smith dies

6:16 PM, Jul 8, 2010   |    comments
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Hawk Point, Mo (KSDK) -- Good old fashion detective work is what St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch said helped investigators determine convicted sex offender Paul Smith was the person suspected of abducting Alisa Maier from outside her Louisiana, Missouri, home.

"We believe at this point we have plenty of evidence to believe that the person you previously reported as a person of interest, Paul Smith, is the suspect," Chief Fitch said during a press conference Thursday morning in Clayton. "There is no reason to believe at this point anyone else was involved."

Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Al Nothum previously confirmed Paul Smith shot himself and died at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Charles.

After Alisa Maier was found alive at a car wash Tuesday night in old town Fenton, she was taken to area hospitals to be checked out. Investigators determined her hair had been cut and her clothing had been changed since she was abducted on Monday.

Chief Fitch said they were able to track the new clothing back to a Wal-Mart store in Troy, Missouri.

Investigators reviewed surveillance video from the store and found out Paul Smith had paid for the clothing in cash and he purchased cigarettes which required him to give the cashier his birth date. Chief Fitch said that information helped them zero in on Smith.

Alisa Maier was not seen on the video, according to police.

Relatives of Alisa Maier said when Alisa saw a picture of Paul Smith on television, who at the time was a person of interest, she told them "he cut my hair."

Maier's six-year-old brother, Blake, witnessed the abduction and family members said when he also saw a picture of the person of interest on television, "he got really scared and shook."

Authorities approached Paul Smith near Hawk Point in Lincoln County concerning the abduction of Alisa Maier on Wednesday night. That is when he shot himself with a small-caliber gun.

Exactly whose home it is, is still unconfirmed. Chief Fitch said Paul Smith had been staying at a place there. Neighbors said they had seen Smith over the past few days.

Police towed a dark-colored, two-toned car from the scene around 1:30 a.m. Thursday to Clayton, Missouri for further investigation. It was similar to the car in the suspect vehicle description in Maier's disappearance.

See pictures of the car found by police

Chief Fitch said they have search warrants on Paul Smith's car, home and cell phone and they had recovered evidence. He said the investigation could take months to complete because of forensic evidence.

The Major Case Squad, made up of various law enforcement authorities from the greater St. Louis area, initially went to Hawk Point to investigate the murder of Jeff Smith. However, the kidnapping of Alisa Maier kept them in the area. 

Paul Smith, Maier's kidnapper, shot and killed himself just blocks away from the scene where Jeff Smith was murdered. The Major Case Squad normally spends no longer than five days investigating cases, but their investigation has been extended indefinitely.

Meantime, authorities are not ruling out a possible connection between the homicide case involving Jeff Smith, and the kidnapping of Alisa Maier.

"For two of them to occur in such close proximity, it is quite a coincidence," said Captain Shayne Duryea, with the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office.

Jeff Smith was killed outside his auto repair shop last Saturday night. He's a man just about everyone does know, and was well respected here in Hawk Point.

Chief Fitch said they gave all the information from the Alisa Maier case to the Major Case Squad, but they have not yet determined if they are connected.

The two scenes are less than two miles apart and one person inside the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department said they do want to get their hands on the gun used by Paul Smith to shoot himself to see if it shows any connection between the two cases.

Paul Smith, 38, is a registered sex offender. In 1995, he was convicted for sodomizing a 10-year-old boy.

Court records also show Paul Smith served prison time for tampering with a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property among other things. He has a previous address at an apartment complex on Weil Avenue in south St. Louis. Residents there said police raided that address earlier Wednesday.

Hawk Point is located about halfway between where Maier was taken from her front yard in Louisiana, Missouri Monday night and the Fenton car wash where she was found late Tuesday.

Alisa Maier was found wandering at a gas station car wash in the 600 block of Gravois Road in old town Fenton around 9:45 p.m. Tuesday. St. Louis County police said witnesses contacted them to report seeing a young boy unattended. The witnesses, later identified as Kevin McNeely and Ashley Gibbs, told detectives they saw the child walking away from a vehicle. After police met and spoke with the child, county police realized it was Maier.

Chief Fitch said so far, they did not believe Smith had any connection to Fenton, but they knew he was familiar with Louisiana, Missouri.

Meanwhile, family members said Alisa Maier is doing fine, with no signs of assault, sexual or otherwise. She's perfect in everyway according to her grandfather, except for a haircut to make her look like a boy.

KSDK

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