DNA MATCH LEADS TO ARREST IN
2003 HOME INVASION
Nearly seven years after a violent
home invasion near Orange City victimized a married couple and
their sleeping children, DNA lifted from blood droplets on a
bathroom tile has led to an arrest. Volusia County Sheriff’s
investigators believe the suspect, 26-year-old Robert Smithers
of Longwood, bled on the tile after cutting himself while
smashing a set of sliding glass doors to break into the home.
Investigators are still working to identify three other suspects
who took part in the attack. One of the victims sustained a head
laceration in the assault after being struck with a tire iron.
The four attackers targeted a family
on 2nd Street, breaking into the house and demanding
drugs, money and jewelry. The victims had no involvement with
drugs, and investigators believe the suspects may have hit the
wrong house and actually intended to target another resident on
the same street. Two of the intruders accosted the husband, with
one -- later identified as Smithers -- pointing a gun at his
head and then attacking him with the tire iron. The other two
suspects confronted the wife, who was asleep on a couch in the
living room. The couple told investigators that during the
attack, the suspects threatened to kill them and their children.
The couple’s two daughters, ages 6 and 12, were asleep in the
house at the time, but didn’t wake up during the ordeal. After
about 10 minutes, the suspects fled the house with some money,
jewelry and an electronic game system. Once they discovered that
their phone lines had been cut, the couple then went to a
neighbor to summon help.
Crime scene technicians from the
Sheriff’s Office who were dispatched to the scene to search for
clues ended up cutting out a piece of bathroom tile from the
victims’ home because it contained what appeared to be blood
droplets. But after eliminating a list of possible suspects, the
Sheriff’s Office was forced to suspend the investigation back in
September 2003. That all changed in November of last year, when
new information from a confidential informant caused the
Sheriff’s Office to re-open the case. The decision was then made
to send the tile to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement
lab for analysis. And in March of this year, investigators
learned from FDLE that the droplets were indeed blood and that
the DNA matched the DNA of a brand new suspect -- Smithers.
Investigators then re-interviewed the victims, and one of them
picked out Smithers from a photo line-up. But investigators were
unable to locate Smithers to question him. So on March 30, the
case agent -- investigator Chuck Lee -- obtained arrest warrants
charging Smithers with armed home invasion, kidnapping and
aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.
The search for Smithers ended Monday
during a traffic stop in Seminole County. Smithers was
transported to Volusia County and booked into the Branch Jail
Tuesday afternoon, where he’s being held without bond.
Previous press releases: