The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

Community struggles with grip of tragedy


Faith Cathcart - Courtesy The Oregonian

SOLACE IN‚ÄąCANDLELIGHT: Residents of Cannon Beach, Ore., set up a candlelight memorial Saturday night outside the Surfsand Resort in honor of the deceased Smith child.

Much of Goldendale today is in shock, none more so, it must be presumed, than the father of the two children found in Cannon Beach, Ore., Friday, one murdered and one severely injured at the hand of their mother, according to police. The father, Greg Smith, lives here and works at Klickitat Valley Health (KVH). But along with the shock is deep compassion as the community tries to rally around one of its own with support and comfort.

Leslie Hiebert, CEO of KVH, said Monday the KVH staff opened an account at Riverview Bank. "That's one way of supporting him," Hiebert said. "That, and respecting his privacy. His co-workers really wanted to help, and they set up the account." Anyone can contribute to the fund at any Riverview Bank; the account is in the name of the Greg Smith Family.

"We're here for him," Hiebert said.

At The Sentinel, emails and phone calls arrived from far-away media asking if the staff knew how to reach Greg Smith. The staff did. The staff shared no private information. The Sentinel is the newspaper in Smith's town, his back yard. It's in the business of covering the news, but it made no effort to contact Smith, deferring professional duty to the desire to help.

The need for space to heal is readily apparent in the statement released by Greg Smith's family Sunday night: "We are extremely grateful for the outpouring of sympathy and support from Cannon Beach and the surrounding communities. We would also like to thank all the law enforcement agencies for their tireless efforts. Special thanks is given to the caregivers and other support individuals for their empathy and skilled care of our whole family. Our family is working through a very difficult time, and we would request that our privacy be respected. If, in the future, any member of the family wishes to speak with media, we will reach out directly or through police officials. Thank you."

Cannon Beach was stunned at the events there as well. Workers at a daycare facility there organized a candlelight vigil honoring the Smith children, and residents set up a memorial on the sidewalk outside the Surfsand Resort where the crimes took place. At the vigil, children hugged their moms, silently searching for understanding as they offered their best wishes to a family 117 miles away.

Meanwhile, court records related to the Smith's recent divorce filing and custody issues-being public records-are everywhere in the news, picked clean of details for a public struggling to understand such an unnatural act. The records are revealing, showing as they do the awful irony of Greg Smith warning the court of the potential danger his wife posed to their children-and of the children scheduled to be brought to him the very day Jessica Smith evidently found a way to do the unthinkable. Beyond sharing that, consideration for one of Goldendale's own leads The Sentinel to forego expounding on the court minutia.

Monday the Associated Press (AP) reported on Jessica Smith's arraignment that day in her first court appearance in the case. She appeared through a video feed from jail, sitting at a table and looking down frequently. She did not enter a plea, and she was ordered held without bail. According to the AP report, her next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 12.

Meanwhile, Goldendale searches for ways to show its empathy while according needed privacy to the Smith family.


Reader Comments

adams98619 writes:

As a reader of your newspaper I respect your effort in honoring privacy during a time of anguish. As our society becomes more enamored with sensationalism, a respect of privacy is going by the wayside.


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