EL PASO, Texas -- The man accused of killing his estranged wife and placing her body in the storage area of the east El Paso apartment they had once shared is a Fort Bliss soldier, officials at the post confirmed on Thursday.
Linwood James Smith, age 22, was arrested Wednesday in the death of Kerica Robinson.
According to court documents obtained Thursday by ABC-7, the crime allegedly happened on May 29, three days before Robinson would have turned 21.
Police also said a search of his cell phone and repeated lies during an interview led them to arrest Smith.
A friend of Robinson had reported her missing to police, saying her absence did not seem like it was voluntary.
Police then contacted Smith, who told them that he and the victim were in the process of getting a divorce and that he was no longer living at the apartment they had once shared along the 1600 block of Zaragoza.
Smith, however, told police he had been visiting the apartment daily to feed their dogs. Police say he consented to a cursory search of the apartment and investigators found nothing suspicious.
Police then asked to search his cell phone’s history and found searches for items like “what happens if police can’t find a missing person,” “shovels,” “trash bags” and “can police trace a bullet to a gun.”
At that point, the interview with police was no longer voluntary, and Smith was escorted to a police interview room. According to documents, he waived his right to counsel and agreed to continue talking to police.
Investigators said he then proceeded to lie repeatedly to them and was unable to keep his stories straight.
At one point, police say Smith told them he was threatened by the victim with a knife and feared for his life. According to arrest documents, Smith also told police he assaulted the victim with a knife, recanted and then said he shot her after she had attacked him with a knife.
Smith later confessed that the victim was dead as the result of his actions but said he was only trying to defend himself.
Investigators believe this was an act of a family violence. After Smith told them he had moved the body to a storage closet on the balcony of their apartment, they obtained a search warrant and found the victim.
Smith has been booked into the El Paso County Detention Facility and charged with murder under under a $1 million bond.