- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2009

STAUNTON, Va. | A teenager working part time at an ice-cream parlor in 1967, Sharron Diane Crawford Smith, shot two co-workers in the head after they mocked her for being lesbian, a terrible secret at the time.

Police learned her motive in a confession when she was terminally ill in November, and they made it public Friday, four days after she died.

Mrs. Smith ensured that the mystery would outlive her, however, when she also claimed that the lead detective, now dead, helped her bury the murder weapon. Investigators swore Friday to verify that allegation and to find out why one of their own would have hidden her guilt in a case that has practically become folklore in this Shenandoah Valley city of 25,000.

“If he had anything to do with covering this thing up,” Commonwealth Attorney Raymond C. Robertson said as residents lined the City Council chambers to hear the news, “we are hell-bent on finding out what it was and why.”

Mrs. Smith, 61, died Monday, more than a month after her arrest in the deaths of Constance Smootz Hevener, 19, and her sister-in-law, Carolyn Hevener Perry, 20, on April 11, 1967. Mrs. Smith told investigators she shot both women in the head in the back room of the ice-cream shop because they teased her about being homosexual, Mr. Robertson and Staunton Police Chief Jim Williams said.

“That was different in 1967 than it is today, extremely different,” Mr. Robertson said. “It would have been a matter that it would have had different ramifications than it would today if it had been made public.”

Mrs. Smith told police she gave the .25 caliber pistol she used to shoot the women to Detective David Bocock, and they buried it.

Detective Bocock died in 2006, leaving a wife who is now in a nursing home. Police are investigating his involvement, although they said other aspects of Mrs. Smith’s confession have checked out.

“We know that’s what she told us and we’re trying to corroborate every aspect of her confession,” Mr. Robertson said.

Mr. Robertson did not know the extent of the relationship between Mrs. Smith and Detective Bocock, though he said she had practiced shooting at his farm.

Mrs. Smith swiped $138 from the store as she fled, which led police to think it was a robbery. Police initially focused on William Thomas, who told them he saw two men running from the scene. Mr. Thomas was tried for one of the murders and was acquitted, but the other murder indictment remained on his record until Dec. 30, when police, according to Mr. Robertson, were satisfied that he had nothing to do with the murders.

Mr. Thomas said having that hanging over his head for 40 years was tough, though it could have been worse.

“My loss is not comparable to what happened to those families,” Mr. Thomas said recently. “Regardless of whether those girls - there may been some things they were doing that may or may not have been correct - but certainly they didn’t do anything to deserve what happened to them, and those families didn’t do anything to deserve what Dave Bocock put them through.”

Mrs. Smith moved away for a long time after the killings, got married and had two daughters, both of whom have declined to speak with the Associated Press.

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