As part of his Ohio Unsolved Homicides Initiative, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is asking for information regarding the murder of a World War II veteran in Ross County. 89-year-old Harry Smith died of blunt force trauma on October 16, 2011. After the homicide, investigators believe the killer set fire to Smith's home on State Route 772 in Chillicothe.
"My daughter and her husband went out to his house, opened the door, and smoke rolled out of the house," said Jerry Smith, Harry's son. "We initially thought the fire took his life, but found out later that he had been murdered."
Smith, who served the country in the Navy, spent his entire life in Chillicothe and worked as a Walmart greeter later in life. An avid painter of scenery, Smith was also a grandfather, a great-grandfather, and a great-great-grandfather.
"It has been really hard on the family, and it is something that never really leaves your mind," Jerry Smith said. "It is with you like your breath is. It is a constant thing."
In an effort to gather new information on the case, Jerry Smith and his four children announced a new $5,000 reward for information leading to a conviction for Smith's murder. The information must be received in the next 90 days.
The new reward is in addition to two other rewards being offered by Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers and the Ohio Fire Marshal's Office. The Fire Marshal's Office is offering up to $5,000 for information leading to an arson arrest and conviction, and a person who provides information to the Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers tip line could receive a reward of up to several thousand dollars if the information leads to an arrest.
The number for the Southern Ohio Crime Stoppers tip line is 1-800-222-TIPS.
(Photo submitted by the Ohio Attorney General's Office.)