Pamela Smart has been in the news again recently, and there’s another documentary available by Hulu. She has countless supporters, and there are many Facebook groups calling for her release. I’m curious what all of you think. Is Pame (Pame is the name Pamela’s supporters call her) a victim, or is she a master manipulator?
May 1st, 1990,
Derry, New Hampshire
22 year old Pamela Smart had come home from work at approximately 10:30 pm to find her husband of less than one year, 24 year old Greggory Smart, deceased. He had been laying near the front door, a bullet hole just above his left ear. The home had been ransacked; investigators pondered the motive: maybe this murder had something to do with drugs, or maybe a robbery gone wrong? Gregg’s truck was parked outside, his wallet was still in his pocket, and a gold wedding ring was still on his finger. It wasn’t likely to be a robbery, and Gregg wasn’t known as a person to mess around with drugs.
After the murder Pame acted rather strangely. She seemed to really enjoy the media attention, relished being in the spotlight. She was always dressed to the nines when she was giving an interview, and that rubbed many people wrong; was strange behavior for a supposedly grieving young widow.
Not long after the murder, police received a phone call from a woman stating that a 15 year old girl named Cecelia Pierce had information about the case; she was saying that Pamela Smart had orchestrated the murder of her husband. Cecelia was a student at Winnacunnet High, the school in which Pame worked as the director of media services. It appeared that Pame had taken Cecelia under her wing; the two were very friendly, and often hung out after school. During her initial interview with police, Cecelia denied having any info about the murder.
Cecelia told police that Pame had been involved in an affair with 15 year old Billy Flynn, and that the two were in love. Pame had wanted to leave her abusive, cheating husband, but it wasn’t that simple; she told the teens that if there was a divorce Gregg would end up taking everything she owned including her precious dog, Halen. Also Pame had a life insurance policy on Gregg worth $140,000, and that she’d wanted her husband dead so she could collect. At first none of the teens had been very serious about killing Gregg, but Pame persisted, and eventually the group gave in.
Cecelia tried to get Pame to speak candidly with her over the phone, but to no avail. So on July 12th Cecelia went to school armed with a wire, and she cornered Pame while in her office. While the older woman did not come out and admit to ordering her husband’s murder, she did hint that she knew about the plans. Cecelia told Pame that the police wanted to speak with her, and she was afraid of going to jail for having knowledge of the murder before it happened. Pamela did not seem too concerned; the boys would never be convicted as there was no physical evidence against them. But even if they were, nobody was going to believe Pame had anything to do with the murder. Pame suggested that Cecelia lie about what she knew. Soon after this little meeting, Pamela was arrested.
When police first arrested Billy and his friends, most claimed to not know a thing about the murder. They didn’t talk until they were offered a deal: Instead of first degree premeditated murder, Billy and Pete would be permitted to plead guilty to the lesser crime of second degree murder in exchange for their testimony against Pamela. This was great, since the young men were facing life in prison. It was at this point that Billy sang like a bird.
Billy claimed that he’d resisted the idea of killing an abusive Gregg for quite a while, but Pame eventually wore him down. Pamela offered the boys $500 a piece for the murder, which would’ve been like hitting the lotto for them; these were poor kids living in poverty. If that weren’t enough of an incentive, Pame had been withholding sex from Billy until the deed was done. Billy claims that Pame was the very first girl he ever even made out with, let alone went all the way; it wasn’t hard for Pame, a woman in a position of power, to manipulate him.
The date of the murder was chosen because Pame knew she would be working late, she’d have a solid alibi. On that night, Billy and Pete were already inside the home, waiting, when Gregg arrived. They’d had time to ransack the place and lock Pame’s dog, Halen, in a room so he wouldn’t be traumatized by the murder. When Gregg walked into his home, Pete held Greg down while Billy shot him in the head. Many believe that it was the other way around; that Billy was incapable of going through with this, and that he held Gregg down while Pete shot him. Either way, Gregg was dead.
After a sensational trial Pame was found guilty of accomplice to 1st degree murder, conspiracy, and witness tampering. She was sentenced to life without parole, and it’s doubtful she will ever be free. Billy Flynn and Patrick Pete Randall pled guilty to 2nd degree murder; they each served 25 years and were released in 2015. Vince Lattime was sentenced to 30+ years for providing the weapon and driving the getaway car; he was released in ‘05. Raymond Fowler, who was waiting in the getaway car, was released in 2004.
Let’s talk a moment about Pamela’s supporters; there are thousands of them. I am usually able to be objective, and I like to understand all possibilities before I decide whether I believe a person to be guilty or not, so I joined a couple of Pro-Pame groups a while back. This is the deal: they believe without a doubt that Pame is a victim. They see the relationship between Billy and Pame as an “affair”, it doesn’t matter that Billy was only 15 while Pame was a married woman in her 20’s, doesn’t matter that she was in a position of a power. It’s been said that Pame was used by Billy; he was a player who was much more experienced, sexually, than the older woman, and that he took advantage of her. This circle of supporters truly believes that Billy had orchestrated the murder out of either malice or jealousy, as Pame had been trying to break it off with him. It’s thought that these were juvenile delinquents who already had criminal records, and they only testified against Pame so that they could escape a first degree murder charge. They feel that the way the teenage killers acted after their testimony, laughing and joking, helps prove her innocence. That said, even if she had known, her supporters are upset that those who actually pulled the trigger have been released, while Pame will not receive a second chance. Another selling point for those who defend her is that popular Nicole Kidman movie, “To Die For”. This movie is very, very loosely based on the murder of Gregg Smart, but people seem to view it all as fact. Many of those who had investigated the case have gotten confused over what happened in the movie, and what happened in real life. It does seem that that truth and reality has been blurred into one.
Another point: it’s believed that the trial, which was the very first live broadcasted murder trial in America, was corrupt. Even the judge got carried away in the excitement, he stated that he would like for Clint Eastwood to portray him in the movie. Then there was all of the sexy pictures drama, pictures which were said to have been taken by Pame to help her seduce Billy into committing murder. It appears that wasn’t entirely true, and the photograph may have been taken long before the murder by a female friend of Pame’s. Many feel that Pame was convinced in part because she was found to be unlikeable, or even simply because she’s beautiful.
Maybe the trial was handled incorrectly, but did the jury get it right? You tell me.
Just last year Pamela was begging the governor to set her free. She takes very little responsibility for the murder of her young husband, other than admitting that had she not involved herself in an “affair” this likely wouldn’t have happened. She is fighting for her freedom, and thousands are fighting with her. There are petitions online asking that this wrongly convinced woman be released, and these petitions have garnered thousands of signatures.
Pamela has had a rough go of it in prison; she’s been a target, attacked more than once to the point of needing surgery. Pame claims that she’s been victimized by not only inmates, but also by the prison guards.
There’s so much more to this case than I could possibly fit in a single post. Thankfully most you are already familiar with the case. Have you researched it, looked into why people would think she’s innocent? What do you think? Is she guilty? Should she be given a new trial, maybe set free, or should she rot?
A few links for you, in case you want to look into this further! This is a link to the HBO documentary about the case. “Captivated” is definitely worth the watch. There’s also a 3 part docuseries by ID, it’s available now on Hulu.
If you’d like to see one of those petitions (or even sign it, I’m not judging) click here:
If you’re interested in hearing the Pro-Pame group’s powerpoints, here ya go: