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Last updated on Wednesday, February 29, 2012
(TRAFALGAR)(WTHR13) - A three-year-old boy is dead and police believe his own mother is responsible.
It happened Monday night in the town of Trafalgar in Johnson County. The murder of Jacob Smith has stunned even law enforcement, but those who know the mother say they aren't surprised.
Some of those people say Amanda Smith should never have been alone with her child. Also, police say she had made dozens of non-emergency calls to authorities in the weeks before her son's death.
A playful child with a huge smile, Jacob Smith was just three years old.
"Sweetest, cute little boy you could ever find," said Kimberly Trittipo, who knows the family.
"He was adorable. Beautiful blond, curly hair, just sweet as he could be. Just wonderful," said Pat Ridge, a Trafalgar store manager who got to know the family.
Police say Monday night his mother, 33-year-old Amanda Smith, drowned him, then placed his body on a bed in their Trafalgar apartment. Authorities say, without being questioned, Smith confessed to murdering her son.
"I think to end what possible misery the child could be facing in the future," said Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox.
While police aren't sure what she was referring to, acquaintances say it's crystal clear.
Kimberly Trittipo, a friend of Jacob's father, says the boy's relatives were in the midst of a bitter custody battle. His grandmother had guardianship while his father, Robert Crim, was trying to gain custody. Amanda Smith had only limited visitation rights.
Police say the boy's grandparents did not want their daughter to have unsupervised visits with Jacob overnight. But the day of the alleged murder, a Johnson County judge said those visits were okay.
Crim told Eyewitness News Smith once threatened she would do anything to keep the boy away from him. He had a hearing coming up, seeking custody of Jacob.
"If she was going to be around him it should have been for a few hours and it should have been supervised," said Trittipo in response to a question about visitation and custody.
"For the kid to come here and even stay the night, you think the judge shouldn't be able to do that, you know," said Ryan Wells, who witnessed the police entering Smith's home.
Police confirmed Amanda Smith had serious mental issues and was on several medications. When police entered her apartment Monday, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said she "came out of the apartment with an ax swinging it at the officers."
Smith then surrendered to officers.
"It's very sad," said Ridge. "She just wasn't real stable yet and didn't need to have him. Just didn't, she seemed distant. Didn't seem to really care (for her son)."
Smith called 911 at 9:14 p.m. Monday night to report that her son was dead. A second 911 call was received from Smith's mother, advising that her daughter told her that she "had done something to her child that could not be undone."
Witness Ryan Wells says the night the boy died, "the grandparents pulled up, they were banging on the door and she was yelling at the cops, 'She is capable of something!' Next thing you know, cops just kick down the door."
When police broke into Smith's apartment on Trafalgar Pointe Way, they found the boy, lifeless. He was later pronounced dead at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Franklin.
Police turned to boy over to paramedics, then Smith allegedly exited a closet and moved toward officers while swinging an ax. Officers backed out of the residence and called the SWAT team.
Smith surrendered to Trafalgar Police before SWAT arrived, and was transported to Community Hospital South to be checked out medically.
Smith was transported to the Johnson County Jail, where she awaits formal charges by the Johnson County Prosecutor's Office.
At a news conference Tuesday morning, Trafalgar Police Chief Kurt Heminger said Amanda Smith had only been in his town for about three weeks, but during that time, she made dozens of calls to police for "anything." He described them as "crazy" calls, but did not go into detail.
"Probably the best way to describe this is Amanda Smith does have some mental health issues and that's really all we can [say]," said the sheriff, who added that the statements that she made were corroborated by the evidence inside the apartment.
Sheriff Cox said they found an empty bottle of prescription medicine, which prompted them to have her checked out at a local hospital. After that she was taken to jail.
Police said the apartment complex had not received any complaints about Smith.
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