In June 2007, 18-year-old Kelsey Ann Smith vanished from the parking lot of a Kansas Target store, leaving behind her car and purse. Her heartbreaking abduction—more terrifying than you can imagine—was the subject of last night’s Three Days To Live.
Smith’s dad, Greg Smith, happened to be a cop, and as soon as his daughter was late to return from a shopping trip he sprung into action; in the episode, Kelsey’s sister even recalls how, after she found Kelsey’s car, her father told her immediately not to touch it because it was now a crime scene.
Greg showed his family how to set up a search party, contacted the media (quickly getting the story national attention), and even immediately told his family that they’d be treated as suspects—all while dealing with the grief around the disappearance of his daughter. “I never knew it could hurt to breathe,” he told someone during that time, he recounts in the episode.
Police initially didn’t notice anything amiss with security video of Kelsey on her shopping trip—she seemed happy and unaware that she was in any danger. But when investigators expanded the footage of Kelsey walking out of the store and to her car on a larger screen, they were able to make out an image of a man with a light shirt and dark shorts running across store’s parking lot—and getting into Kelsey’s car through a door she had opened.
Police looked at other security footage from Kelsey’s shopping trip and what had seemed innocent on initial viewing soon took a much darker turn: the man in the light shirt and dark shorts had followed Kelsey around the store, stalking her like prey.
Investigators quickly shared images of this man and soon got a suspect: Edwin Hall, a married father of a 4-year-old son. Shortly after, investigators used cell tower records to track Kelsey to a forest in Missouri. She was dead—strangled with her own belt—and appeared to have been sexually assaulted.
When police interviewed Hall about Kelsey’s disappearance and death, officers said he appeared arrogant—to the point where he offered up his fingerprints and DNA. “His attitude was that he was the smartest guy in the room,” one officer said.
Not smart enough—his finger prints and DNA matched those found in Kelsey’s car. He ended up admitting to the crimes in court to avoid the death penalty. He’s still in prison, serving out a life sentence.
Be sure to watch new episodes of Three Days To Live every Sunday at 6/5c on Oxygen.