Misty Erwin Murder: Is Clay King Smith Dead?

Image Credit: Find A Grave

Investigation Discovery’s ‘Evil Lives Here: The Cop and the Killer’ chronicles the gruesome murder of 20-year-old Misty and her family members in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, in March 1998. The episode narrates the grizzly chain of events through Retired Officer Walt Chavis as he recounts how law enforcement brought the victims justice. 

How Did Misty Erwin Die?

Misty Dawn Erwin was born to Douglas Randall and Lula Bell Paul Erwin in Dumas in Desha County, Arkansas, on May 23, 1977. A member of Old Union Baptist Church, she graduated from Star City High School in 1996. Misty was a bubbly and friendly girl and stayed with her boyfriend, Clay Smith, in a two-bedroom mobile home at Pine Bluff in southeast Arkansas in March 1998. Hence, it came as a shock when police found the 20-year-old and four other victims dead inside her residence after they went there to investigate a missing person report.

According to court documents, officers found Misty shot dead, lying on a recliner, and covered with a blanket. They also found the bodies of a female and a small child in the west bedroom, identified as 12-year-old Samantha Rhodes, a family friend, and Sean Sorg, 5, the son of Misty’s cousin, Shelley Sorg. 24-year-old Shelley’s body was found on the couch in the living room, along with her other son, Taylor Sorg, 3. Moreover, the investigators discovered 12 spent .22 caliber shell casings and two bullet fragments at the scene.

Who Killed Misty Erwin?

On March 25, 1998, an officer was dispatched to a local Pine Bluff grocery store parking lot to investigate a missing person report. Misty’s mother, Lula, had reported her daughter missing. When the police reached the grocery store, they met Bobbie Erwin, who informed them her daughter, Shelly Sorg, and her two grandchildren, Sean Michael and Taylor, were also missing. According to police reports, the concerned officer headed toward Pinto Road, where Misty’s mobile home was parked.

While looking for the mobile home, the Jefferson County officer met James Rhodes, the father of Misty’s family friend, Samantha Rhodes. He directed the officer toward where the trailer was parked. When the police officer arrived at 3105 Pinto Road, he knocked on the doors to receive no response. Meanwhile, Shelly’s parents arrived at the scene and identified their daughter’s vehicle parked in front of the residence. Police reports state the officer was on his way back to the station for further instructions when he was called back to the address due to suspicious circumstances.

The owner of the residence, Mark Lackey, had arrived, and he unlocked the door with his set of keys. The officer shone his flashlight inside to discover the carpets stained with blood and blood splatters on the side of a washing machine. The reports state how he identified a deceased female across a bed and contacted his superiors. As investigators swarmed the scene, they made the chilling discovery of five gunshot victims inside. With the entire family murdered inside his mobile home and Clay missing, he immediately became a suspect in the quintuple homicide.

According to reports, the police had responded to a domestic violence complaint by Misty on March 23, and officers arrived to find her battered by her boyfriend. Initially, she insisted on being taken to a women’s shelter but finally relented and agreed to stay with him after signing a written statement. The detectives’ suspicions were further confirmed when they interviewed the neighbors and bystanders. According to court documents, Sandra Haynes, a neighborhood resident, reported witnessing Clay leaving the residence when she looked out of her kitchen window at around 12:05 AM on March 25, 1998.

Court documents further state how another witness, Becky Irons, alleged she had overheard Clay threatening to kill Misty and her family if she left him and claimed to have seen a rifle on the couch at the time. Based on all the witness statements, the prosecuting attorney filed felony information, and an arrest warrant for Clay was issued the following day, March 26. According to the show, the investigators received information that Clay was seen at a hunting club near Star City in neighboring Lincoln County.

The Jefferson County officers met with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Arkansas State Police, and a collaborated team of officers headed toward the concerned hunting club. The episode showed how Clay spotted the law enforcement officials and ran through an adjacent wooded area, armed with a rifle, for about 200 to 300 yards. Surrounded by officials, he had no choice but to confront them and engaged in a heated stand-off for the next hour or so. Court documents state he made several incriminating statements during it.

Clay King Smith Was Executed in 2001

The stand-off finally concluded when a state trooper was forced to shoot Clay in the arm after repeatedly disregarding the multiple warnings to put his weapon down. Subsequently, the perpetrator was arrested, and the officers found the rifle to be of .22 caliber – the same used to shoot the five victims. Clay was taken into custody and charged with five counts of capital murder. His trial commenced on March 17, 1999, and he claimed to have committed the murders under the influence of drugs.

Clay waived his rights to appeal and asked his defense counsel not to cross-examine the state witnesses or present evidence on his behalf. After the court found he was mentally fit to do so, he was convicted on all five counts and sentenced to death. According to news reports, Clay spent his last few days writing several letters to Misty’s family, stating he waived his rights to appeal so that they could move on with their lives. He was executed on May 8, 2001, by lethal injection at the Cummins Correctional Unit in Arkansas.

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