Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Main Line Murders

Smith Protested his Innocence Until his Death

In the years following his release, Jay C. Smith continued to insist he was innocent.

Jay C. Smith
Jay C. Smith

Costopoulos observed in Principal Suspect that, at a press conference immediately after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered his discharge, a reporter pointed out that Smith was out of the reach of the law if he were to clear up the mystery surrounding Michael and Karen Reinert. The reporter stated, "You could go public with anything you know about Susan Reinert's two children and never be prosecuted."

Smith indicated that he could not tell what he did not know. "I have no information, none whatsoever, regarding those children," he calmly replied. "I did not kill those children. I did not harm those children in any way."

An article in The New York Times reported, "Smith filed several lawsuits against the state police and Mr. Wambaugh, accusing them of colluding to convict him falsely, but lost all of them, the last one in 2000."

In 2002, Smith married. Among other jobs, Smith worked as a personal care home administrator. Before retiring, he managed an adult-day-care center.

Smith self-published a book entitled Joseph Wambaugh and the Jay Smith Case in January 2009. Smith explained, "I wanted to make sure that if anybody ever studied Wambaugh in the future that they would find out what he wanted to do to me."

Book cover: Joseph Wambaugh and the Jay Smith Case
Book cover: Joseph Wambaugh and the
Jay Smith Case

Smith pointed to a deal between the famous author and Reinert case lead investigator Jack Holtz as compromising the investigation. An article in The Patriot-News stated that a few months before the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court ordered Smith's release, "a junkman removed a box of evidence from the home of Jack Holtz . . . The key piece of evidence in that box, dealing a major blow to the case, was a letter from Wambaugh offering $50,000 for information on the condition that Smith be arrested and face court. There also were documents that showed Holtz had collected the money." Wambaugh admitted paying the money. He also stated in a deposition in the 1990s that he "didn't think the book would work until something happened to Smith."

Wambaugh insisted in an interview with the The Patriot-News that his actions had not influenced the case. He pointed out that Smith had lost the lawsuits. "Nothing came out that would give him anything in a fair-minded court of law," he stated.

The writer pointed out that the name "Joseph Wambaugh" appeared in much larger letters on the cover of Smith's book than Smith's own name did. "He's trying to sucker people in and make them believe I wrote the book!" the famous author claimed. "He's trying to make a buck. He's using you. We have to have more integrity than this."

Smith countered that the main reason for the book was to clear his name. "I would like to make money — anybody would — but the principal motive was to make sure there was something in print about what happened to me," he asserted. "I don't believe there would have been a case had [Wambaugh] not got into it and paid them money."

Smith paid the service Xlibris $1,800 to publish his book and he received about $10 for each copy sold.

The "about the author" section of the book reported that Smith enjoyed camping, fishing and painting. It also said that he and his wife resided in a Senior Citizens Village and that he was a public speaker against the death penalty.

Joseph Wambaugh and the Jay Smith Case was listed on where five customers reviewed it. Three reviewers complained that the book was filled with distracting grammatical and spelling errors. One expressed dismay that a professional educator could put out a work so shoddily edited.

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