Escaped Georgia Inmate Wanted for Murder Kills Himself as Authorities Close In

By Victor Westerkamp

An escaped Georgia inmate wanted for murder in Florida committed suicide as police were closing in on him on Aug. 20.

34-year-old Stephen Michael Smith took his life as officers of the U.S. Marshals Service Task Force and Gulf County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped his car at the intersection of Ivy Road and U.S. 98 in Parker, Florida. The incident took place on westbound U.S. 98 in Gulf County, Florida, according to the Sheriff’s Office’s post on Facebook Wednesday morning, AJC reported.

“With the vehicle surrounded by law enforcement, Smith immediately placed a pistol to his head and committed suicide,” sheriff’s Capt. Chris Buchanan said in the Facebook post.

Smith was on the Loose since August 15 from Clayton County transitional center in Georgia after he was out on work release and did not return timely. He was serving a 10-year sentence for robbery out of Troup County.

The Georgia Department of Corrections issued a statewide lookout on August 20 and set a price of $10,000 reward for information that would lead to Smith’s capture.

On August 19, Smith allegedly killed 30-year-old Daniel Lee Upton of Lakeland, Florida, in a drug deal gone wrong in Gulf County.

The meeting was reportedly set up by 44-year-old Destiny Jene Terry, who was arrested on Tuesday morning on second-degree murder charges. She was present at the scene and might be found complicit.

The victim was still conscious according to AJC when officers responded to the scene, a home on Sea Pines Lane, near the beachfront in Port St. Joe at 10 a.m. Monday.

Destiny Jene Terry, 44, the alleged accomplice to the murder of a Lakeland, Fla., man, was arrested Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019 (Gulf County Sheriff’s Office)

“The victim, prior to losing consciousness, identified Smith as the shooter and Terry as being present,” officials said in a news release, according to AJC.

A statewide search began on Monday. Late Tuesday, when police spotted Smith speeding westward on US 98, all units were dispatched. Authorities successfully stopped Smith, but couldn’t prevent Smith from taking his own life.

Unfortunately, committing suicide is not an uncommon way for perpetrators to avoid responsibility for their evildoings. Two months ago, The Epoch Times reported on another such case in San Jose.

5 Killed in San Jose Shooting, Suspect Kills Himself After Standoff With Police

Four people lost their lives in gunfire in San Jose. The shooter killed himself as the police tried to engage him, ending the June 24 hours-long standoff.

In an apparent murder-suicide case, police responded to the 500 block of Hibbitts Court in the Cramer Umbarger neighborhood at 8:40 p.m. on June 23, after many people reported hearing gunshots, indicated KRON4.

A woman dialed 911 saying that her husband had killed her sister and brother, according to Mercury News.

“When officers arrived on scene, two adults exited the residence suffering from at least one gunshot wound each,” San Jose police spokeswoman Officer Gina Tepoorten told Mercury News.

The entire street was cleared, and SWAT teams surrounded the house. The authorities were trying to engage with the suspect, but he killed himself, and the standoff ended early Monday morning, according to KRON4.

The two victims were taken to the hospital where both succumbed to their injuries shortly after they arrived there, reported ABC7.

At about 1:25 a.m., the police were able to enter the house where they found three dead bodies, including that of the suspect.

Police said there are no outstanding suspects and the case is being investigated as a quadruple murder-suicide—the suspect shot the four people before killing himself, reported ABC7.

The Mercury News reports that the suspect was a Vietnamese man in his 60s. Among those who escaped the shooting are his wife and his 17-year-old daughter.


Epoch Times reporter Venus Upadhayaya contributed to this report