Derrick Robie, a four-year-old kid, was brutally murdered in the little community of Savona, New York, in 1993. The fact that he was killed by a 13-year-old, Eric Smith, added to the shock.
‘48 Hours: Eric Smith: Gambling On a Killer,’ a CBS News special, focuses on the events leading up to the murder, the consequences, and Eric’s release from jail. So if you’re interested in learning more, we’ve got you covered.
Recommended: Where Are Derrick’s Parents Doreen & Dale Robie Now?
Who is ‘Eric Smith’ And Derrick Robie?
Derrick, then four years old, travelled alone to a day camp in Savona on August 2, 1993. Unfortunately, the first time his parents let him out alone was also the last. Derrick never arrived at the camp, and his family soon reported him missing.
The search for the boy ended in tragedy when his body was discovered near the camp in the woods. Derrick had been strangled, had a boulder slammed into his head, and had been sodomised with a stick.
Everyone was afraid, fearful for their children’s life because of the brutality. When Eric Smith’s relatives brought him to the authorities, the initial speculation about a drifter cooled down.
According to a family acquaintance, Eric (13 years old) wondered what would happen to the killer if he turned out to be a child in the days following the murder. He was also in the vicinity at the time of the murder. Eric originally denied any involvement, but after some time had passed, he confessed.
Growing up in an abusive environment, Eric had a difficult upbringing. He later admitted to being ridiculed at school because of “my ears, my glasses, being short, my red hair, pretty much everything.”
Eric’s, (thirteen years old at that time) unresolved anger issues were a major factor in the homicide. He was in a bad mood that day after discovering the camp was closed when he arrived on his bicycle. Eric decided to vent his rage on the four-year-old after noticing him nearby.
He enticed Derrick into a remote wooded area, claiming to show him a shortcut, then strangled him there. After that, Eric smashed Derrick’s skull with a 26-pound boulder and even sodomised him with a stick.
Eric later stated that he thought the stick would reach Derrick’s heart and stop it from beating. The case made national headlines in part due to Eric and the victim’s ages, as well as the heinousness of the murder.
What Happened to Eric Smith?
Eric’s trial was held in 1994, and he was tried as a grown man. The defence claimed he suffered from “intermittent explosive disorder,” which caused him to have uncontrollable violent outbursts.
Eric, on the other hand, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to nine to life in prison. Eric was transferred to a state jail after serving time in a juvenile facility until 2001. After serving the first nine years, he was eligible for parole every two years.
Eric claimed to feeling wonderful while strangling Derrick during his initial parole hearings since someone else was being hurt instead of him. Eric later admitted that if he hadn’t been apprehended in 1993, he would have probably been killed again.
“He (Derrick) didn’t deserve anything that I did to him; no one deserved that sort of brutality,” Eric said in 2014, apologising for his conduct.
Eric was granted parole on his eleventh attempt in October 2021 after maintaining a clean disciplinary record since 2005 and following years of therapy. He was freed from prison in February 2022, after a little delay.
Eric, who is now 42 years old, will be on probation for the rest of his life and will have to check in with his parole officer on a regular basis. He is also prohibited from leaving the state without permission and from associating with those who are involved in illicit activity.
While in prison, Eric earned qualifications in carpentry fabrication and electrical installation, and now lives in Queens, New York. Eric claimed that he wants to become a counsellor to help other children in addition to looking for a job in that industry.
Eric fell in love with a woman who wrote to him while he was in prison, and he mentioned that he was engaged. She was pursuing her law degree at the time, and she corresponded with him about the juvenile justice system.
Freckle-faced killer Eric Smith, now 42, freed on parole, says he's engaged https://t.co/pAvBfJ2mll
— 48 Hours (@48hours) March 19, 2022