Little Falls homeowner recorded break-in, teens' deaths

Keep out sign
A keep out sign in the driveway of Byron Smith's home (not seen) south of Little Falls, Minn. on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012. Smith has been charged with murder for killing two teens after shooting and wounding them in his basement.
MPR Photo/Conrad Wilson

The man accused of killing two teenagers who allegedly broke into his Little Falls home recorded the incident on video and audio devices, according to court documents.

Byron Smith remains in jail on second-degree murder charges for the Thanksgiving Day shooting that killed Haile Kifer, 18, and Nicholas Brady, 17. Smith, a 64-year-old retired State Department employee, told authorities he killed the teenagers after they broke into his home and left the bodies in his basement overnight, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities who searched Smith's home found a "video surveillance system" that showed the two teenagers outside of Smith's home on Thanksgiving Day. Authorities also seized a digital audio recorder that included audio of the shooting, according to an affidavit filed Nov. 29 by Morrison County Sheriff's Office investigator Jeremy Luberts.

Smith was highly trained in surveillance equipment as a State Department security engineer. Prior to his retirement in 2006, he oversaw construction and repair work in U.S. embassies and consulates. Security engineers focus on technical issues, such as building layout, locks, alarms and wireless networks, and are required to have a top secret security clearance.

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Smith told investigators that he shot Brady, as the teenage boy walked down the basement stairs. After the initial shot, Smith said, he decided to shoot Brady in the face because he wanted to kill him, according to the criminal complaint. Smith told authorities he dragged Brady's body into a nearby room, put a tarp over it and sat down in a chair. He said Kifer walked down the basement stairs a few minutes later and he shot her several times. Smith told deputies that the final round, fired through Kifer's skull, was "a good clean finishing shot," the complaint said.

In the morning, Smith called his neighbor and asked for a recommendation for a lawyer. His neighbor called the sheriff's office and said Smith may have killed an intruder.

Deputies arrived at Smith's home in response to the neighbor's call. Smith, wearing what appeared to be bloody clothes, greeted the deputies at his front door and admitted killing the teens, according to the deputy's affidavit. Smith directed authorities to the two weapons he used in the shootings, a Mini-14 rifle and a .22-caliber revolver, which he had placed in a closet near the garage door.

Investigators found a "large quantity of ammunition" in Smith's laundry room, according to an evidence receipt. The initial search of Smith's home also uncovered speakers and a cord for a laptop computer in Smith's basement. A second search, on Nov. 29, found a laptop computer and several memory cards. Authorities also found Smith's pickup truck several blocks away from his home.

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