Mandy Lemaire Murder: Is Charles Smithart Dead or Alive?

Image Credit: Find a Grave/Adam Hill

One day in August 1991, teenager Mandy Lemaire was supposed to be back home in mere minutes, but she was never seen alive again. The search for her lasted more than a week before her body was found in a wooded area. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Cold Blooded Alaska: The Last Walk’ chronicles how forensic evidence was crucial in connecting the suspect to Mandy’s murder. So, if you’re curious to know what happened in this case, we’ve got you covered.

How Did Mandy Lemaire Die?

Amanda Lynn Lemaire was born in July 1980 to Dave and Valerie Lemaire. The 11-year-old had two brothers and was quite close to her family. According to loved ones, Mandy was responsible and very mature for her age. On August 22, 1991, Mandy’s friend, Erin, was supposed to come home for a visit. The two girls planned to meet halfway before walking to the Lemaire residence in Tazlina, Alaska. Just before 3 PM that afternoon, Mandy left home. However, Erin never saw her.

Image Credit: Find a Grave/Landen’s Papa

About half an hour later, Erin reached Mandy’s house alone. Soon, family members were joined by volunteers in a search for the missing girl. Eventually, a missing person report brought the police into the fold. An investigation revealed that Mandy was last seen possibly at the halfway point to Erin’s house. About ten days later, her body was found in a ditch about a mile from her residence. Mandy was raped and shot twice in the head with a .22 caliber firearm.

Who Killed Mandy Lemaire?

Early on in the investigation, the authorities had a suspect in mind. It was Charles Smithart, a retired laborer and handyman that lived in Copper Center, Alaska. Charles was married with children, but his family lived in California. Then 61 years old, he stayed with his mother in Copper Center. The detectives looked into him because of his almost obsessive interest in the case. He was also one of the first people to take part in the search for Mandy.

Later on, the authorities also had witness reports that placed him around Mandy’s home at the time of her disappearance. A truck driver, Dave DeForest, told police that he saw Charles in his pickup truck turning into the lane where Mandy lived at around 3 PM on August 22. Then, one of Charles’ cousins stated that she saw his pickup truck about two hours after Mandy vanished close to where her body was eventually found. While she couldn’t say for sure who was driving the car, she was certain it was Charles’ vehicle.

A search of Charles’ car revealed the presence of blond hair strands that matched Mandy’s. Furthermore, fibers found on the 11-year-old were consistent with the ones found in his vehicle and on his clothing. The detectives also found globules of iron on Mandy’s clothes. This was consistent with what happened to iron when it was welded. Charles was known to weld in his shop behind his house, further implicating him in the murder.

How Did Charles Smithart Die?

With a mountain of evidence against him, Charles was arrested in November 1991. He claimed to have been watching TV at home during the time of Mandy’s disappearance. The police also found a .22 caliber weapon at his mother’s house. In 1993, Charles was convicted of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual battery on a minor, and first-degree murder. He was sentenced to 114 years behind bars. However, in 1999, the Alaska Supreme Court overturned his conviction because the trial judge had not allowed Charles’ attorney to argue that someone else could have killed Mandy. He was still in prison with he died of lung cancer in 2000. Charles was around 70 years old at the time of his death. The charges were dismissed after his death.

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