Soldier Claims Sergeant Wanted His Wife Slain for $30,000

USA Today

October 7, 2008, Fayetteville, NC – A Fort Bragg soldier repeatedly asked an 18-year-old colleague to kill his wife — also a soldier — and eventually offered $30,000 for the deed to be carried out, the teenager told authorities in police records released Monday.

According to a search warrant affidavit, Army Pfc. Matthew Kvapil told investigators he dressed in black and hid in bushes on Sept. 30 while Sgt. Richard Smith, 26, and his wife, Sgt. Christina Smith, 29, walked near their apartment. When the pair passed his hiding spot, he told investigators, he jumped out and stabbed the woman to death.

Both men appeared in court Monday, charged with one count each of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Superior Court Judge Tal Baggett scheduled probable cause hearings for Oct. 23 for both men. Both will also receive court-appointed attorneys.

Relatives and friends of the defendants rushed past reporters on their way out, declining through a sheriff’s office spokeswoman to comment.

The search warrant affidavit entered in court Monday stated that officers responding to an emergency call the night of the slaying found Richard Smith holding his wife, stabbed and bleeding in the roadway near their Fayetteville home.

Richard Smith first told police an attacker stabbed his wife in the neck and fled as he chased after him. She died on the way to the hospital.

Officials who interviewed Richard Smith at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center that night mentioned that his voice sounded robotic as he recounted the events that led to his wife’s death. He also mentioned having picked up a friend — Kvapil — to buy supplies for an upcoming camping trip.

In a second interview with authorities, Kvapil said Richard Smith had propositioned him at least twice about killing Christina Smith. Richard Smith said he’d done it before, Kvapil told police, and mentioned how lucrative murder-for-hire could be.

Police would not comment on details of the search warrants released Monday and it was not clear whether they took seriously Smith’s claims of being paid for other slayings.

Richard Smith told authorities he’d mentioned having his wife killed to people several times, but only in fun.

Kvapil led authorities to the knife used in the attack, according to the warrant. He had discarded it in a creek several miles from the crime scene.

Officials took several items from the Smiths’ home on Sunday, the warrant stated, including a computer tower, leather gloves, various personal documents and several “sharp-edged weapons.”

A spokeswoman for the Army’s Special Operations Command said Richard Smith, of Denton, Texas, had returned in June from 10 months in Iraq. Kvapil, of Santee, Calif., joined the Army in 2007. Christina Smith, of Mount Orab, Ohio, enlisted in September 2005.

All three were assigned to the 4th Psychological Operations Group.

Christina Smith’s death marks the third time in four months that a husband or lover has been charged with murder in the death of a soldier based at Fort Bragg. It follows the slayings of Spc. Megan Touma, 23, and 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc, 24. It also comes less than a year after Marine Corps Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, stationed at Camp Lejeune, was found dead.

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