Where is Lemuel Smith now? | The serial killer who murdered a prison officer

Lemuel Smith

What did Lemuel Smith do? 

Lemuel Smith is an American serial killer who became the first ever convict to kill an on-duty female corrections officer. He was already in custody for the murders of at least five people when he took the life of prison guard Donna Payant at Green Haven Correctional Facility in 1981. 

Donna’s murder was considered shocking at the time and brought scrutiny to the New York prison system. 

Smith’s criminal career charts back to 1959 when he was arrested for kidnapping and attempted murder of a woman in Baltimore, Maryland. He was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison. After nearly 10 years in prison, Smith was given parole in 1968 and the following year he kidnapped and sexually assaulted a woman, and later that same day, he kidnapped and raped a friend of his own mother. He was arrested again and sentenced to 4-15 years in a New York prison. 

Smith was paroled again in October 1976 after having served just over 4 years after he pleaded guilty to first-degree attempted rape. A month after his release on the 24th of November 1976, Robert Hedderman and his secretary, Margaret Byron, were found brutally murdered in the back of Hedderman’s religious store in Albany. 

On the 23rd of December 1976, Joan Richburg was raped and murdered. This was followed by Maralie Wilson being found strangled and murdered in downtown Schenectady, New York.

On the 19th of August 1977, Marianne Maggio was kidnapped and raped by Smith, and he forced her to drive towards Albany, where police pulled him over and arrested him. 

What happened after Smith was arrested? 

On the 5th of March 1978, Smith confessed to five murders in an attempt to convince prosecutors of his insanity. This included the murder of Dorothy Waterstreet nearly 20 years earlier.

Smith was found guilty of rape in Saratoga County in March 1978, for which he was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. This was followed in July by a guilty verdict of another kidnapping, which gave him another 25 years in prison. Smith was then found guilty of the Hedderman store double murder and sentenced to another fifty years to life in prison. 

Smith was also indicted for the murders of Joan Richtburg and Maralie Wilson, but charges were dropped as he already had no chance of ever being released from prison. 

Where is Lemuel Smith now? 

Lemuel Smith is considered to be one of the most dangerous living inmates in the New York prison system, and he is kept in isolation housed 23 hours a day for the protection of other inmates and prison officers. 

Smith is currently incarcerated at the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility. He is 82 years of age. 

What do you think of Lemuel Smith’s case? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Leave a comment