Johnny Joseph Manord to serve three consecutive life sentences for murder of Donald and Lorraine Smith

STUART – The confessed killer of an elderly Rocky Point couple has already accepted a plea deal of three life sentences ensuring he will die in prison for the vicious Aug. 26 attack motivated by greed and drug addiction.

According to an arrest affidavit received by the Hometown News Sept. 11, Johnny Manord, 55, of the 5400 block of Southeast Jack Avenue, confessed to the murders of Donald Smith, 81, and Lorraine Smith, 80, to Martin County investigators on Sept. 9 after confronted with nearly two weeks of evidence they’d compiled since the slayings. That included security camera footage from a neighboring home depicting the suspect walking towards the couple’s Southeast Hull Street home on Aug. 26 and GPS tracking from his cell phone placing him in their home the same day and near their 2007 Lincoln detectives found abandoned Aug. 28 in the Golden Gate neighborhood.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder announced Mr. Manord’s confession in a Sept. 9 press conference.

“This afternoon, 55-year-old Johnny Manord confessed to killing the Smiths. Mr. Smith owns several rental properties and Johnny Manord worked for him in the capacity of a handyman. On the day of the murders, Manord was captured on a residential security camera walking to the Smith’s home. Manord said he entered the home through an open garage door. He immediately confronted Lorraine Smith and demanded money. Lorraine refused, so Manord grabbed an extremely heavy glass bowl and smashed Lorraine Smith over the head. Donald Smith heard the commotion and ran out to assist his wife, whereupon Johnny Manord bashed Mr. Smith in the back of the head with the same heavy class bowl.”

Sheriff Snyder went on to describe how Mr. Manord grabbed a sharp knife from the kitchen and finished the couple off by slitting their throats. Then he took several hundred dollars in cash and a .38-caliber revolver before fleeing in the couple’s car without bothering to close the garage door. Investigators found the knife used in the killings not far from where Mr. Manord abandoned the car. The medical examiners determined the couple died from both blunt force and sharp force trauma.

“The suspect said that his motive was robbery,” Sheriff Snyder continued as he detailed the massive effort his Office exerted to find the killer quickly. “Following the discovery of the murders, approximately 50 personnel, including our entire Criminal Investigations Division, community oriented policing units, the Special Investigations Division, crime analysts and road patrol personnel began a complex investigation.”

That investigation included interviewing the family friend, William Steinwachs, who first suspected something was amiss Aug. 27 when he went to the couple’s home and found the garage door open but the car missing, according to the arrest affidavit. He closed the garage door thinking it might have been left open accidentally. When he could still get no telephone response, he returned the next day to let himself in with his own key and discovered the bodies. It was Mr. Steinwachs’ testimony that first revealed the existence of a handyman named John who worked for the Smiths to help keep up their rental properties, whose last name was eventually provided by a tenant, Timothy Jacques, who had his cell phone number. It was his girlfriend of 17 years, Carol Roberts, who ultimately provided investigators with information on Mr. Manord’s behavior on Aug. 27, which included spending $300 on crack cocaine that he told her got from panhandling. She also told them he was trying to sell a firearm, which ended up being same .38-caliber revolver missing from Mr. Smith’s firearms collection.

During the press conference, 19th Judicial Circuit Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl emphasized the importance of Ms. Roberts’ testimony and emphasized the fact she had no clue as to what her boyfriend had done.

“She provided us with breaking information,” he said. “You’re not going to get a guy to come in and plead straight up to two counts of first-degree murder unless you develop some pretty solid evidence. We had a very strong circumstantial evidence case, [and] she was a significant part of that.”

In announcing the plea deal, Mr. Bakkedahl said he realized that some members of the public might have preferred seeing him get the death sentence. He believed, however, that Mr. Manord would most likely not have lived beyond a lengthy trial and appellate process.

“He’s had a stroke, a heart attack and has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” he said. “He will come out of the Department of Corrections in a pine box. He should be on death row, but at the end of the day, I think we all came to an agreement that the best and most fitting, just resolution of this case is what we did. I think we developed what can only be described as a bullet proof agreement to ensure that we arrive at this finality and repose which we all seek.” 

Sheriff Snyder agreed.

“There is no power on earth that can undo the horrifying events that occurred in Rocky Point on Aug. 26,” he said. “However, in some measure, justice has been done: Johnny Manord will never draw a free breath for the rest of his life.”

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