Days before he stabbed his mother to death at her home in the Fairhaven neighborhood, a Bellingham murder suspect was treated at a hospital for drug-induced psychosis, a prosecutor said in court Monday.
Sheaen Emmette Smith, 29, placed a nonsensical 911 call about werewolves and vampires around 2 p.m. Sunday from his mother’s duplex in the 1500 block of McKenzie Avenue across from a Fairhaven fire station, according to the Bellingham Police Department. Officers responded to find Smith’s mother, Aurora Lee Buol-Smith, dead on the ground floor.
Buol-Smith suffered multiple stab wounds, and she had defensive wounds on her hands, Bellingham police Lt. Danette Beckley said. Buol-Smith was 57.
Police found Smith in an upstairs bedroom. He told officers he stabbed his mother, and went on to give “numerous” delusional reasons for why he did it, police said. He claimed he was a werewolf, and his mother was a vampire – the same things he had told the emergency dispatcher, Beckley said.
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Hours into their investigation, police tweeted that the son had a “sexual motivation” for the killing, based on statements Smith made to police. However, it’s not clear if those statements were grounded in fact or in a deluded state of mind, Beckley said Monday. Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy before saying if a sexual assault occurred.
Smith drew a picture for police to show where he left the knife, and investigators recovered the suspected murder weapon inside the house. Smith was arrested on suspicion of second-degree murder while armed with a deadly weapon.
At his first court appearance Smith, a man with a full beard and curly brown hair below his shoulders, answered questions in a calm, quiet voice. Superior Court Commissioner Alfred Heydrich silently read a prosecutor’s summary of the crime before finding probable cause to hold Smith in jail.
Smith had been treated and released at St. Joseph hospital for acute psychosis related to methamphetamine use in the days before the stabbing, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey said in court Monday.
“The defendant admitted to police that he’s been using a lot of meth recently, which is the reason for the voices in his head,” Richey said, in an argument that Smith posed a flight risk and a danger to the community.
Heydrich set bail at $1 million. Smith’s deputy public defender, Starck Follis, said that if the defendant posted bond, he planned to stay at his mother’s duplex — a notion that Heydrich found inappropriate, because it’s still a crime scene. Heydrich told Smith he would have to find another place to live, in the event that he comes up with $1 million. Yellow crime scene tape was gone from the duplex Monday.
Smith, a mechanical contractor, has no prior felonies on his record. He had been convicted of a misdemeanor assault on his wife at the McKenzie Avenue duplex in 2010. Smith moved back in with his mother after a breakup, the prosecutor said in court.
Buol-Smith had been a licensed practical nurse since the early 1990s. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.