May 1, 1990: The shocking death that started a sensation in N.H.
By: Michael Rideout -- Posted April 20, 2006
© Copyright 2007 Keene Equinox
Like most insurance agents, Greg Smart's work day on May 1, 1990 stretched past 5 p.m., what with clients to call or counsel, paperwork to file or forms to complete. He pulled into his driveway at 4E Misty Morning Drive in Derry, N.H.
He unlocked his front door to the condo he shared with his wife of less than a year, Pam. He stepped inside.
His wife Pam arrived home from a school board meeting at 10:15 p.m. As she later described in a written statement, "when I came up to the house I thought it was weird because there were no outside or inside lights on. I opened the door with my key and turned the hallway light on."
By the time the Winnacunnet Board of Education had finished its meeting, three of the district's students and one other friend were already back home in Seabrook. Their night's journey had carried them to Derry, a town 37 miles away from Seabrook. Not the usual stomping grounds for four guys from the wrong side of the tracks.
One of the four teenagers, William Flynn, 16, had a very close relationship to the victim's wife Pam. Flynn was also a friend with Pam's teenage assistant and confidant, Cecelia Pierce. The two had worked together on a video project for Pam three months earlier.
Earlier in the year Greg, admitted to Pam he'd had a one-time affair with a woman while away on a business trip in the fall of 1989. This had devastating effects on Pam's self esteem, particularly since they'd just married May 8, that same year.
As she later described in an exclusive prison interview, the combination of betrayal, low self esteem and Prozac brought her to the edge. Hurt and feeling desperate, Pam became close with Flynn.
The relationship between Flynn and Pam, age 21, was the reason why the four teens drove a car borrowed from one of their grandmother's the evening of May 1, 1990. Besides Flynn, the car carried 16- year- old Patrick "Pete" Randall, 17- year- old Vance "J.R." Lattime and Raymond Fowler, 19, who maintains, along with others, he was along for the ride.
Fowler said he was just along for the ride to Derry because the boys were only going to check out a place to break into. Lattime and Fowler hung around a shopping plaza while Randall and Flynn went to "check things out to steal at a later time."
About 90 minutes later, Flynn and Randall returned back to Lattime's grandmother's 1977 tan four door Chevrolet Impala. Fowler recalls that Flynn and Randall spoke of the power that they had felt. "You should feel the power of killing a man, feel the gun, it's still hot."
Approximately one hour after the boys had left the Smart residence, Pam opened the front door to her house. "I saw Greg's foot and opened the door further," she said, "[I] saw him lying on his stomach." Pam ran out of her home screaming and started to bang on her neighbor's doors.
Paul Dacier of unit 4D Misty Morning drive described to the police that he heard "pitter patter" from next door and a loud bang after Greg Smart had arrived home from work. "I looked out my window and saw a man - who I recognized as the resident who lives beside my condo," Dacier said. Dacier then went on to explain in a Derry Police Department statement form that around 10:15 a woman came to his front door screaming for help. "She was pounding on the door. I told my fiancé to call 9-1-1," Dacier said.
Dacier's fiancé Kim Mercer also placed a statement with the police. "At 10 p.m. I heard frantic screaming outside of my door. I called the police," she said. She also stated that during the year prior to that day she witnessed activity next door with lots of parties, couples sleeping over, and strange people arriving at the condo.
Greg Smart, 24, had been murdered. Crime scene photos show a young man face down in a hallway with a bullet wound to the upper left side of his head. Visible by his body are two pens and the valise he'd brought home from work. His feet point towards the welcome mat with a pink and blue goose design. A single gunshot wound to the head from a .38 caliber bullet was determined to be the cause of death.
Identifying who caused the death fell to Detective Daniel R. Pelletier from the Derry Police Department who was assigned to the case. Even 15 years later, it's obvious this is one case Pelletier remembers well. Understandable, given the fact that the murder of Greg Smart and the ensuing murder trial remains one of the biggest spectacles to ever hit New Hampshire.
"I observed the victim lying in the hallway face down just inside the front door of the apartment at the dining room entrance," Pelletier said. "There was a pool of blood under the victim's head. A wound was located on the top, left side of the victim's head and blood was located on and around the wound."
Five days after the murder, and one day before what would have been the one year wedding anniversary of Pam and Greg Smart, Pam contacted Bill Spencer at WMUR News 9 for an interview.
On May 14, 1990, an anonymous phone call placed to the Derry Police department linked Cecelia Pierce, a fellow student of Bill Flynn and an intern for Pam in the media center, to the murder case.
On June 10, 1990, the Seabrook Police Department had a break in the case. Ralph Welch, a friend of Lattime, had come to the Seabrook Police Department and informed them that he had knowledge about Greg Smart's murder and that he knew who killed Greg Smart.
Charewicz of the Seabrook Police Department interviewed Welch, and he found that Welch knew intimate details about the case. At the same time Vance Lattime Sr. had just turned in his .38 caliber revolver to be looked at by the Seabrook Police Department, due to his suspicion of the gun's involvement with a murder, according to the affidavit of Pelletier.
"Vance Lattime Sr. had checked and noticed his .38 caliber had been cleaned, he thought it was strange," said Pelletier.
During the interview by the Derry Police, Welch said that three friends had told him about their involvement in the murder. The individuals Welch named were Randall, Lattime and Raymond Fowler.
According to Welch, Fowler had also told Daniel Blake, of Seabrook, about his involvement in the murder. Blake later married Cecelia Pierce, another major participant in the Smart drama.
According to a Derry Police Department Supplement Report, Blake was interviewed by Detectives Surett and Charewicz and divulged information regarding details of the murder. Blake told the detectives that in early May Fowler told him that he had gone with Lattime, Randall and Flynn to Derry and "shot a guy" according to the report. Fowler had also told Blake that Randall and Flynn had gone into the man's home while he and J.R. waited in a plaza behind the Smart's condo. The two teenagers perused the selection of stores in the plaza, such as RadioShack and Strawberry's, and also waited in their car.
Fowler told Blake details about what Flynn and Randall had talked about in the car ride back to Seabrook from Derry that night. Blake knew that Flynn was seeing the man's wife Pam and he knew that Pam was "supposed to be a teacher at Winnacunnet High School," according to the Derry Police Department Supplement Report. Blake stated that Fowler told him that when Bill and Pete went into the man's home that one of them held a knife to the man's throat and the other one shot him.
On June 12, 1990 an anonymous phone call was made to Surette at approximately 11 p.m.
Ruggerio answered the call and informed Surette that there was an anonymous call about the Smart homicide and the caller sounded like an older male using a pay phone.
Surette took the call at the house officer desk on a taped line. According to a Derry Police Department Supplement Report, the caller told Surette that "the school teacher was sleeping with one of the boys and that she staged the thing."
The first names of three boys involved in the murder, Bill, Pete and Vance, were also mentioned by the anonymous call.
On June 11, 1990, Flynn, Randall and Lattime were arrested. Flynn's arrest report states that his crime was "first degree murder." Randall and Lattime were arrested as accomplices to first degree murder.
The boys were taken in wearing the trendy "mullet" style hair cut of the early 90's and their possessions were collected by the Seabrook Police Department. The Seabrook Police Prisoner Property Inventory list includes possessions of one William P. Flynn as 21 cents in change, one silver necklace, a dungaree jacket, a red cap and a pair of sneakers.
Surette and Assistant Attorney General Paul Maggiotto interviewed a man named Kenneth Knight, a friend of the Flynn family, questioning any information he might know of the murder.
According to the Derry Police Department Supplement Report, Flynn's mother told Knight that on the evening before Flynn's arrest he told his mother that he had done something bad but he would not tell her what he had done. Flynn had spoken with Knight later that evening in private and was emotionally distraught.
A sensitive Flynn admitted to Knight that he was the one who had shot Greg Smart and said the reason he did it was because Greg beat Pam. Flynn told Knight that he had seen the bruises. Knight said that Flynn told him he would do his time and go to jail for the rest of his life if he had to.
On June 13, 1990, Pelletier, Captain Loring Jackson, Charewicz and Surette carried out a one party audio surveillance on a conversation between Pam Smart and her assistant /confidant Cecelia Pierce. Pierce was wearing a body wire that was monitored by the detectives and was recorded at approximately 12:50 p.m. of that day.
The surveillance was authorized by Chief Edward B. Garone of the Derry Police Department and Pierce signed a form permitting the monitoring and recording of her conversation with Pam Smart. A total of seven tapes were recorded between Pam and Pierce. Not only were body wires worn in the recording of the conversations but wire taps were placed on Pam Smart's phone line.
On July 13, 1990 a recording device was placed on Cecelia Pierce before she met with Pam. Some of the conversation went as follows:
Pierce: "You know what. Remember that time you let Bill use your car to go up there?"
Pierce: "Up to your house?"
Pierce: "Well that time, if he hadn't forgotten directions he could have killed Greg then and then…"
Pam: "I know, I really…"
More of the conversation leads to Pam questioning Pierce of wearing a body wire.
Pam: "Give me some signal that if you ever come down to me and you're wired that you are going to give me."
Pierce: "I'll just wink."
A Derry Police Department Supplement Report shows that Pierce was interviewed by Pelletier in a multi-party conference call with Assistant Attorney Generals Cynthia White and Diane Nicolosi. Pierce stated in this interview that Pam had discussed the actual planning of her husband's death and Flynn was present for some of the discussions to go over the details of the murder.
On Aug. 1, 1990, at 7 p.m. the last phone conversation was recorded between Pam Smart and Pierce by Charewicz and Jackson. The phone call was made from Pierce's residence to Pam Smart's work phone at the Winnacunnett High School media center.
On that same day, Pelletier signed an affidavit and warrant at the district court in Derry for the arrest of Pam Smart with the charge of accomplice to first degree murder of her husband Greg Smart. Pelletier, Jackson, Byron and Charewicz met at Pam's work in Hampton, N.H. and entered the building.
Pelletier proceeded to head towards Pam's office in the lower level of the building in the media center and had a brief conversation with Pam. "Well Pam, I've got good news and I've got bad news." Pelletier said. "The good news is we've solved the murder of your husband."
The bad news was that Smart was under arrest.
Pam Smart was read her rights, under the watchful eye of WMUR News, which had shown up to the scene, and brought to the Derry Police Department where she was then allowed to make one phone call and placed into cell two.
Pelletier states that Pam told him she had the card of her lawyer, whom she had contacted when he arrested her, but the Derry Police Department Supplement Report states that Pelletier noted that Pamela Smart did not say anything else to detectives upon her arrest.
Smart joined Flynn, Randall and Lattime as participants in Greg Smart's murder to be under arrest. Fowler was later arrested after Smart's pre-trial motions had started.
"We talked to Pam," said Pelletier about the beginning of the investigation, "You always want to look at the inner circle first and work your way out."
Pelletier found a few things odd about Pam's willingness to talk to the media days after the murder of her husband. She was told not to talk to the media, on advice of the police, but still did. Pelletier notes Pam's reaction to Greg's death as "handling this more professionally, than emotionally."
Mark Sisti, Pam's lawyer for the trial, recalled in an interview on February 18, 2005, that he was contacted before Pam's arrest. "We informed her that she was the focus of an investigation," said Sisti of their conversation.
The media jumped on the case like wild animals on fresh meat.
The trial was covered live by WMUR television every day, and was also the first trial to be broadcast on Court TV. The image of an attractive, young, grieving widow being a suspect of her own husband's murder was eaten up by the media and the public before the jury could even be selected.
Phrases such as "Ice Princess" were used as headlines to newspaper articles about the trial. Pam was consistently mislabeled as a teacher. During the trial Flynn was constantly referred to as a 15-year-old boy when in fact he was 16 years old.
When the trial began, the jury was never sequestered, making it possible for jurors to fraternize in public with people about the trial and view news coverage of the trial.
By May 20, 1991 all the trials against Pam Smart and the boys involved had either struck a deal or reached a verdict.
Lattime would spend the next 15 years in jail.
Fowler would spend the next 13, only to be sent back on a parole violation. He was released last summer
Flynn and Randall, who committed the crime, remain in jail until eligible for parole in 2018.
Pam Smart will remain in jail for life, but her, her family and supporters maintain her innocence and continue to work toward a pardon.
For all of them, the rest of their lives were never the same.
© Copyright 2007 Keene Equinox