Local News

Husband arrested in soldier's death; police find knife

Posted October 3, 2008 8:25 a.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2008 5:44 p.m. EDT

— Fayetteville police said Friday that the husband of a Fort Bragg soldier who was stabbed to death planned the attack.

Police charged Sgt. Richard D. Smith, 26, and Pfc. Matthew Kvapil, 18, with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Smith's wife, Sgt. Christina E. Smith, 29.

Christina Smith was stabbed in the neck Tuesday night while she was walking with her husband near their house on Baxter Street. She died on the way to a local hospital.

Richard Smith, originally of Denton, Texas, and Kvapil, of Santee, Calif., both worked in the 5th Battalion of the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, officials said. Christina Smith was a graphics illustrator in that unit. Richard Smith is an electronics maintenance technician.

Fayetteville Police said Richard Smith agreed to pay Kvapil $30,000 to carry out the stabbing.

"The 18-year-old's involvement in this is that he was contracted by the husband, Mr. Smith, to commit the murder,” police spokeswoman Theresa Chance said.

Divers found a knife Friday afternoon in Cross Creek, near Shaw Mill Road. They had used cameras to see in the murky water.

After scouring the brush along the creek bank, police also recovered a hat and a black T-shirt.

Kvapil is accused of wielding the knife. Investigators said he shed his clothes as he ran from the murder scene and dumped them and the weapon in the creek about two miles away.

Police won't say if either suspect confessed. Police told reporters that "a very reliable source" led them to the creek.

Divers continued Friday afternoon to look for the sheath that goes with the knife.

Investigators plan to take the knife and other evidence to a laboratory to process for any fingerprints or DNA evidence.

Richard Smith and Kvapil were held in the Cumberland County Jail with no bond. They are scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Earlier this week, Richard Smith told detectives he ran toward the person stabbing his wife and the person ran away. He said he then ran to a neighbor's house for help.

Richard Smith was treated at the hospital for minor injuries. Police would not discuss the nature of his wounds.

Christina Smith, originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, was a graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati and had earned several awards in the Army. She enlisted in the army in September 2005, but has not been deployed overseas.

She arrived at Fort Bragg in April 2006. Her husband came to the post in February that year.

Richard Smith enlisted in the Army in March 2005. He deployed to Iraq in August 2006 and returned in June 2007. He attended one year of college.

Kvapil joined in the Army in 2007. He has never been deployed.

Special Operations Commanders said they were not aware of any previous disciplinary action taken against Richard Smith or Kvapil.