Taney County Murder Cover Up

Taney County Murder Cover Up

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No Fool

Miami, FL

#1 Oct 3, 2010
Former suspect in Cordt murders speaks out
Dave Warren
• Mon, Sep 20, 2010
Living in the Forsyth area of Missouri in 1985 was like living in many midwestern towns, with the added bonus of having Branson just a few miles down the road. The county seat of Taney County, the town housed the county's courthouse and jail, along with the offices needed to run the growing county.
It was here that 23-year-old Paul Smart had decided to start his own business and to partake in his passion for cars by running on the local stock car track.
The summer of 1985 was a warm one and Smart was keeping busy with his business, so busy, in fact, he didn't have time to enjoy one of the town's most attended events, the Taney County Fair.
When the fair came to town many locals and visitors from around the area would head over to the fairgrounds, located along the lake which borders the southern portion of the county seat. Indeed, many went, including Ena Cordt and her young son, Rory. The two enjoyed the day at the fair and the warm Missouri summer air.
Smart had been over at Ena's home before the day she spent at the fair. He recalls the home as being behind a body or auto shop, just a block off of Highway 160.“I went over to her house on a Wednesday, I think, to give her a bid on drywall for her bathroom shower,” he recently told The Ozarks Sentinel.
Smart had no idea that his Wednesday visit to Cordt's house would soon send his life in a different direction, one that would have dark consequences that reverberate in his life today, 25 years later.
Just a couple of days after giving her the bid, Smart was shocked by the news that was running through the town like electricity through a copper wire.“I think it was on Friday that I heard what had happened,” he said.
Cordt and her four-year-old son had been murdered, brutally killed in their home by someone unknown. The double homicide was the big story in town, where murders seldom happened. Smart had known Ena before that fateful day when he gave her the bid to do the shower dry walling.“My dad worked for her dad, Bob. That's how I knew her. I would go to the stock car track and sometimes I'd see her there,” he said.“I didn't know her well. I had heard that she was a party girl, but I really don't know.”
Smart said he recalled telling a co-worker that he had been at Ena's home giving that bid, so he expected that police may want to talk to him as he would have been one of the last people to see her alive.
No Fool

Miami, FL

#2 Oct 3, 2010
“I heard about that happening and I told my friend,“They're gonna be calling me and – because I did go there and gave her a bid,” he said.“That was on a Friday when I heard and I went on a Wednesday, like two or three days before. That's why this guy that worked for me – I told him,“They're gonna be calling me,” and I understand why they would. That's a normal thing, and I said,“They'll be calling me.”
They did come over to talk to Smart and he recalled that first meeting.
No Fool

Miami, FL

#3 Oct 3, 2010
“They came over to the house and took me down for questioning. That was Sheriff Jenkins, he came over. He was a deputy at that time. He came over and there was 2 or 3 who came over to question me and I went down and talked to them and cooperated with them. That was about all there was to it. They kept coming back and coming back and coming back,” he said.
In fact, they questioned Smart relentlessly, trying to get him to confess to the murders, which he maintained he had no knowledge of.
“This went on for a while. They kept coming over and bothering me and I cooperated with them and finally it got to the point that I was getting upset,” he said.“It went on and on and on and I had not done anything wrong so I wasn't worried other than to be accused of something so horrible. That bothered me, but other than that – I don't know.”
Later, Smart would learn that police had another suspect in mind.
“I do know that I was told that when it came down, I knew they investigated Houseman at one time and told me Sheriff Keithley said, Go after Paul Smart. Leave this alone. Go after Paul Smart. They were trying to keep them out of the limelight. I do know that's what I was told,'Go after Paul Smart,' trying to cover this up, I do know that for a fact,” Smart told The Ozarks Sentinel.“I know that Houseman is related to him (Sheriff Keithley).”
Before he said he learned about that, however, Smart's life began to spiral out of control. He had gone to California to try and reconcile with his estranged wife. leaving Taney County and the constant stares from unsure neighbors who thought he might have been a killer.
“My wife and I tried to work things out and it just didn't work out,” he said.
However, darker forces were working behind the scenes as Smart tried to salvage his marriage.
He said at some point he was arrested in California on a warrant from Taney County for DUI. At the time of his arrest, Smart said the California police told him,“You are suspected of murder in Missouri,” so I –“yeah, right, I heard this before.”
He was held in jail for five months before Taney County sent a deputy to pick him up. It wasn't just any deputy, though. According to Smart, it was Deputy Don Swan, the same deputy convicted serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells claimed in an alleged written confession had hired him to carry out the murder of Cordt. For his part, Smart said he never met or knew Sells.
“Don Swan was the investigator and he went out on a limb to try to – what I feel crucify me, but he came out and got me from California and brought me back.”
Smart said at the time the warrant was issued he was on probation for DUI.“I was on probation, so I violated probation and they sent me to prison,” he said.
During his incarceration, Smart said he was again questioned about the double homicide in Forsyth
“many times.”“They questioned me about it many times,” he said.
When asked by The Ozarks Sentinel, Smart said police never mentioned any DNA evidence they may have had and noted they had his DNA on hand during his incarceration on the warrant, which happened in 1997, a full 12 years after the murders.
Smart said he was wary of the lead investigator, especially in light of what Smart believes was an ironclad alibi for his whereabouts at the time of the crime.
No Fool

Miami, FL

#4 Oct 3, 2010
No Fool

Miami, FL

#5 Oct 3, 2010
“The one that got me was the investigator, Don Swan. I think that he was having something to do with her because he was so damn interested in me. That puzzled me. What are they doing? Any time that somebody is blamed for something in any way, they will be lucky to have a decent alibi. Mine was perfect. I went and bought a stereo and went out to eat and I can prove every bit of it. It was so perfect. I can't believe – I had such a perfect alibi. They knew it, they knew I had nothing to do with it.”
In fact, in an admission to The Ozarks Sentinel, Smart said the name Sells did come up during his questioning and at least one member of law enforcement in Taney County allegedly believed Sells was the killer of Ena and Rory Cordt.
“Do you know Ray Perry? He was a man who ran for sheriff against Jimmy Russell. He ran for sheriff. At the time he was the under sheriff and he told me that Sells had said exactly what they ate that night and that's what showed up from the autopsy.” They said,“He said it exactly right.” Ray Perry told me,“Everybody knows you had nothing to do with it. He's (Sells) guilty as hell,” he told Smart.
According to Smart, the accusations made by police ruined his life and forced him to forever leave Taney County. He noted hat they finally stopped questioning him, but the impact of those 15 years he lived through as a suspect will never be forgotten.
“It rides with me forever. That's a bad thing where people wonder did he do it or not? That was the part that bothered me. Every time I was stopped, I got grilled. I got stopped by a trooper in Branson, a really nice guy. He went and talked to the Taney County Deputy and then the trooper changed his attitude and arrested me. Just totally changed his attitude.” he said.“It was the same in California. In California where I was in jail they were told I was suspected of murder of a woman and a child, so they had an attitude. That's a terrible thing. I would have an attitude, be mad at anybody who did such a thing.”
Smart stills gets emotional when he talks about the impact the investigation had.“It broke up my marriage. I lost everything,” he said.
At age 50, Smart stays away from the Forsyth area, He said the looks and suspicions of some still linger.
“If somebody didn't do it, maybe people need to be told and to understand that the person who's been accused is innocent and that ones making the accusations need to be exposed,” he said.“It's been bad in my life. It's bad today. I wish – I don't know.”
We asked Smart if he believes that law enforcement in Missouri owes him an apology for their botched investigation and if it would help.
“Yes, it would. I always asked for that. Admit the truth and that way if somebody was suspected of something like that, a friend -- would you trust that person around your kids? No, you would not. I wouldn't trust them around my children. My kids mean everything and I would not trust them if they were even suspected of something like that and that's how I feel.,” he stated.
On a side note, Smart provided information that while incarcerated in Taney County he was assigned to shred hundreds of documents relating to former Judge Peter Rae.“That was strange that they had me do that. It took three days to shred them all. I always wondered about that,” he said.
But, that's another story for another time and one we will be pursuing.
More of the Same

London, KY

#6 Oct 5, 2010
Just more of the same political/law enforcement corruptness that rural southern Missouri is swimming in. The TRUTH needs to come out regardless of who it implicates. Thus far, the murderer Sells has been more honest than the police or politicians. The family of the victims need to demand publicity and honesty in this matter.

United States

#7 Oct 5, 2010

Glasgow, KY

#8 Nov 26, 2011
test wrote:
i lived in kissee mills at the time of these murders and i heard all the rumors about ron houseman and coverup and all. don swan told me personally they were investigating a cedarcreek man darwin johnson and could not get enough on him to prosecute but that they could not clear him either. i have heard recently that mr johnson has also died and from what i hear the cause of his death was not clear.i have been reading about all this again with tommy sells and his confession, much about peter rae, bob shanz chuck keithley and don swan and others. peter rae and bob shanz seem to be instrumental in getting this confession. i also read that peter rae was disbarred from practicing law and seems to have a vindetta with the sherrif's department and ron houseman. i would like to know more but can't seem to find out why was peter rae disbarred? what is the relationship with peter rae and shanz? i knew don swan, chuck kiethly, ron housman, theron jenkins as well as the currant sherrif jimmie russel and i think they are fine people doing a good job. i also knew peter rae and i cannot say the same for him.if any one can shed light on any of this i would love to read about it.thanks

Ozark, MO

#9 Nov 27, 2011
Learn to spell all of you

Branson, MO

#10 May 6, 2012
Houseman was having an afair with (gay Afair with Rae) it all came out

Branson, MO

#11 May 7, 2012
so now what can be done?

Branson, MO

#12 May 16, 2012

Sheridan, AR

#13 May 22, 2012
Diana Houseman was one fine looking lady. I have a hard time believing Rae an Houseman were gay? Wheres the proof?

Branson, MO

#14 Jun 1, 2012
What is being done about this case now?

Wasnt there a missing girl Becky Sutton(?) that was never found? There was some conspiracy about that case as I recall too

Anyone have any new info on that case?
Former Cop

Branson, MO

#15 Jul 11, 2012
That was a sad case of police screw ups.

Ozark, MO

#16 Aug 7, 2012
Anyone have information on the Cordt family? I know Enas mom worked for Ron Houseman but what is her name? Who/where is Rorys father?
Rev Jordan

Branson, MO

#17 Aug 13, 2013
Forsyth is a den of criminals Deputy Piveral bosses Jimmy Russell around because of the rumor that Amber has serviced him like the hundreds of others
or thousands....

Branson, MO

#18 Aug 13, 2013
Yes she wants big bamboo
I hate people

Branson, MO

#19 Aug 17, 2013
Rev Jordan wrote:
Forsyth is a den of criminals Deputy Piveral bosses Jimmy Russell around because of the rumor that Amber has serviced him like the hundreds of others
or thousands....
you sound jealous. maybe it is because YOU want to service jimmy russell?? just a thought
Forever fill with Sorrow

Overland Park, KS

#21 Sep 17, 2013
I personally knew Darwin. He was a gentle man. Scary looking on the outside but very sweet. He was torn apart when Ena was killed. Every time I seen him he would ask how the family was doing. I never new Paul Smart but have heard about him through the years. Whether its a conspiracy of what happend to Ena and Willy or if it was just down right murder. Either way it was wrong. I also know about how currupt Taney County is. It is a county that no matter what the issue is its all about politics, what name you have or what family you belong to. Over the years just about all of Ena's famliy has move away from the area and have put this horrible tragedy behind them and focus on the bright future of Ena's daughter and the rest of her family. We have little hope left that they will find the person that has left this gap in our family and choose not to let it rule our lives as our family has lost 2 wonderful people.

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