Where is Denise Roach and Cristy Cowan’s Killer ‘Sam Smithers’ Now? – Former Baptist deacon Samuel Smithers, also known as “The Deacon of Death,” was found guilty of murdering Cristy Cowan and Denise Roach in Hillsborough County, Florida. He was detained on May 28, 1996, and on June 25, 1999, he was put on death row. He is presently incarcerated in Florida on death row.
Smithers and Marion Whitehurst, whom he had met through church, negotiated a deal in 1995 for Smithers to take care of the grass at her abandoned Plant City home, which was situated on 27 acres of ground. Smithers received a gate key from Whitehurst but not a house key. In 1996, Smithers once more consented to maintain the lawn at the abandoned Whitehurst property.
When Whitehurst visited the Plant City home on May 28, 1996, he discovered Smithers cleaning an axe that he had been using to trim tree limbs on the carport. The carport had a pool of blood, which Smithers surmised was the result of someone murdering an animal. Smithers informed Whitehurst that he would remove the blood.
The blood alarmed Whitehurst, who then contacted the local sheriff’s office. A deputy stopped by the Whitehursts’ property later that night. The bloody area had vanished, but the deputy saw dragged traces leading from the carport to one of the property’s ponds.
The deputy arrived at the pond and discovered Cristy Cowan‘s body floating in the water. When a diving team was hired, they discovered Denise Roach‘s body in the same pond.
Sam’s early life and how he was found guilty of two murders are the main topics of Investigation Discovery’s episode “Deadly Sins: No Forgiveness: Kill Me, Kill Me Not” program. If you want to know more about Sam Smithers and his crimes, keep reading below.
Who Is Sam Smithers and How He Kill Cristy Cowan & Denise Roach?
The beginning of Sam Smither’s tale took place in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he was raised in a strict and pious home. There, he met Sharon, with whom he later got married when she was 17, and he was 20. They then adopted a son, and Sam was ordained as a deacon in the church. The family eventually relocated to Plant City, Florida, where Sam held a deacon position at the nearby church in addition to working for a utility firm and performing odd duties around the house.
Maintaining Marion Whitehurst’s property in Plant City was one of his responsibilities. The area’s pond was where the horrifying discovery that revealed Sam’s secret second life was made by the authorities. When Marion stopped by her house on May 28, 1996, she saw Sam cleaning an axe in the carport and a pool of blood. He explained that he was there to chop tree limbs and that a little animal had been the source of the blood.
Marion contacted the police since she was still uneasy, and they soon showed up. Drag marks in the grass led them to a nearby pond, where they discovered Cristy Cowan, a sex worker, dead. Then, a diving team located Denise Roach’s decaying body in the pond; she was a sex worker.
According to an autopsy, Cristy had physical strangulation and sliced wounds behind her ear in addition to her death just hours before being found. Denise, like Cristy, had many skull puncture wounds and had been forcefully strangled.
According to the inquiry, Sam killed both Denise and Cristy when he picked them up on May 12 and May 28, respectively. Police discovered a condom wrapper in the home’s bedroom and a semen stain on the carpet. Cristy was ruled out as a cause of the stain, but Sam and Denise couldn’t be ruled out either. Sam’s fingerprint was in the kitchen, and Denise’s blood was on the carpet. In addition, a store’s surveillance footage captured Cristy and Sam an hour or so before Sam arrived on Marion’s property.
Sam attempted to downplay his involvement during a police interview and stated that Denise arrived at the residence on May 7 rather than him. He claims she mentioned having the authorization to be there. Denise remained there for about a week after that and would not leave. Sam went on to say that after she allegedly slapped him in the arm, he punched her in the face. Sam shoved Denise against the wall during the argument that followed. He left her there unconscious after putting her in the pond the following day. He later claimed that a piece of wood had fallen on her head.
Sam claimed that he chose to assist Cristy after seeing her car parked on the side of the road; she was the one driving. Sam stated that Cristy demanded money and threatened to report him to the police for rape if he didn’t pay after taking her to a convenience shop.
She tossed a drink at Sam after he brought her to Marion’s property and told her he had given her all the money he had. Sam then claimed that he had pulled her to the pond after striking her with an axe. Sam further asserted that when Marion arrived, Cristy was still making noises, and that after Marion left, he punched her in the head.
What Happened to Sam Smithers and Where Is He Now?
In 1998, Sam Smithers was put on trial for the two murders. He gave a completely different account of what occurred during the proceedings. Sam stated that an unnamed individual was responsible for the killings and had coerced him into lending a hand. He claimed that the unnamed individual threatened to murder his family if he disobeyed.
In the end, the jury rejected Sam’s explanation and declared him guilty of killing Denise and Cristy. He received a death sentence in June 1999. At the Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, Florida, Sam is still waiting to be executed. The police investigated him in 2014 as a potential suspect in a 1989 homicide that had not yet been solved.
Watch “Deadly Sins: No Forgiveness” episode (season 1, episode 10) on Investigation Discovery.