A 19-year-old shepherd in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia killed an American family of three on July 4 after the husband defended his wife from the teen’s sexual advances, local reports and Georgia police say.
Ryan Smith, his wife Lora and their 4-year-old son Caleb were found murdered in a remote mountain gorge near the village of Tskere on July 6, according to a news release by the Georgia Ministry of Internal Affairs. A young man, identified by police only as “M.K.,” has been arrested and charged with their murders.
The killings occured on July 4, as the family was visiting a waterfall in the Khada gorge. That’s when M.K., 19, shot Ryan and Caleb to death with his hunting rifle, Georgia police said. Lora fell to her death while fleeing from the attack; her body was found at the bottom of a ravine, according to authorities.
The U.S. State Department confirmed the death of three American citizens, the Associated Press reports. According to Ryan Smith’s Facebook page, he was from San Diego, but had lived in Georgia with his family for six years.
The Smith’s held dual citizenship, according to the Georgia Interior Ministry.
Ryan Smith founded and ran reWoven, a company that sells carpets handmade by traditional Georgian weavers, while his wife taught English through a Georgian government program.
M.K., the alleged killer, was a local shepherd, according to Agenda.ge, a news website in Georgia. He shot Ryan and Caleb after getting into a dispute with Ryan, an official from the Interior Ministry told the website, without saying what the cause of the dispute was.
However, residents of the area told local journalists that the dispute started when the shepherd made sexual advances toward Lora, according to Georgia Today, another local news site.
Police became involved after friends of the Smith family reported them missing on July 6, according to the Georgia Ministry of the Interior. Police found their vehicle in Tskere, before finding their bodies in near the waterfall. The boy’s body, police said, had been hidden in a glacier