A 31-year-old cold-case murder may have been solved last week, with the help of Oxygen’s “Cold Justice” team, according to recent reports.
More than three decades ago, 31-year-old Cynthia Smith disappeared in Mount Vernon, Montana, after dropping her children with a babysitter, according to local outlet KYTV. Her body was found the next month, in August 1988. No arrests were ever made.
On Sept. 6, however, a grand jury indicted 65-year-old Lawrence Timmons, of Pierce City, Missouri for Smith’s death — and, Oxygen’s “Cold Justice” team of private investigators worked closely with authorities in bringing Timmons in, according to KYTV.
He was already in jail on unrelated charges when the grand jury indictment for Smith’s murder came down, according to a Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office release.
Timmons has a history of sexual harassment complaints being made against him at the YMCA he worked at in Monett, Missouri, according to a probable cause statement, KYTV reported, as well as an assortment of social security numbers, email addresses and aliases to help commit “various fraudulent activities.”
More concerningly, however, Timmons has a kidnapping conviction on his record, after serving three years for kidnapping an 11-year-old boy in 1976, according to KYTV.
Timmons, 23 at the time, menaced the boy, who wanted to mow Timmons’ lawn for him, with a shotgun and prodded him into his basement, where he covered his head with a sack and tied him up, KYTV reported. Timmons also assaulted the boy by hoisting him up and dunking his head into cold water, until Timmons was interrupted by guests, and the boy had a chance to flee, according to KYTV.
It didn’t take long for Timmons to be arrested and convicted — but he was only in prison for three years.
Timmons was questioned in the wake of Smith’s 1988 disappearance and death, KYTV reported, but charges were never filed.
However, this month, investigators working with Oxygen’s “Cold Justice” wanted to swap information with local authorities and, on Sept. 6, they brought their evidence to a grand jury and secured an indictment of Timmons, KYTV reported.
And, Timmons’ arrest had reignited law enforcement’s interest in two other cold-case murders — including that of his first wife — according to “Cold Justice” executive producer Kelly Siegler, who told the Springfield News-Leader that Oklahoma authorities are reopening their investigations into the deaths of Timmons' first wife, Deborah Jean Timmons, in 1994, and the 1998 death of an 11-year-old girl who was friends with Timmons' daughter.
Siegler confirmed that information to Oxygen.com on Friday. Lt. Chris Berry, of the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, only confirmed that his office is working with “multiple other agencies.”
Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Melissa Phillips called Timmons “an opportunist,” who doesn’t target victims based on sex or age, in the News-Leader report.
Aside from the boy’s kidnapping, Timmons was charged, between 1976 and 1994, with a home invasion against a college-aged woman and the gunpoint rape of a woman. He was acquitted at trial of the rape charge and convicted of robbery — but later had that conviction vacated on appeal, according to USA Today.
Timmons remains in the Lawrence County jail on August forgery and fraud charges, on $250,000 bond, according to KYTV.
Siegler said that she did not start looking at the Smith murder with great expectations, according to the Springfield News-Leader.
“It’s so old …,” she told the outlet. “I went into this with low expectations, but, my God, look what happened.”
Lawrence County authorities said in their statement that their investigation is ongoing.
“Cold Justice,” featuring the hunt for Smith’s murderer, is set to air early next year on Oxygen.
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