Local News

Fort Bragg soldiers appear in court on murder charges

Posted October 6, 2008 5:53 a.m. EDT
Updated October 6, 2008 6:48 p.m. EDT

— Two Fort Bragg soldiers accused of plotting to kill a fellow soldier were appointed a public defender during a first court appearance Monday afternoon.

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

Both men have another hearing set for Oct. 23.

Police say someone stabbed Christine Smith in the neck Tuesday night while she and her husband were walking near their home in the Hillendale subdivision of Fayetteville.

Richard Smith initially told police that someone ambushed them and then ran off. But investigators believe Smith offered Kvapil $30,000 to kill his wife.

They say Kvapil shed his clothes as he ran from the homicide scene and dumped them and the weapon in a creek on Shaw Mill Road about two miles away.

Divers recovered the knife Friday afternoon.

Richard Smith and Kvapil, who work in the 5th Battalion of the 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, were in the Cumberland County Jail Monday afternoon under no bond.

Christina Smith was a graphics illustrator in the same battalion. Richard Smith is an electronics maintenance technician. Kvapil is also an illustrator.

The case, the fourth in less than a year involving female military personnel, has prompted demands from women's advocacy groups for the Army to address domestic violence.

In January, the charred remains of pregnant Marine Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach were found in the back yard of Cpl. Cesar Laurean.

An employee found the body of Army Spc. Megan Touma in a Fayetteville motel room in June. She was seven months' pregnant.

And 2nd Lt. Holley Wimunc was reported missing in July after someone set fire to her apartment. She was later found dead in a shallow grave

Several groups planned to hold a vigil in Fayetteville Wednesday to remember the women.