Sole volunteer in Santa Cruz County Coroner's Unit helps piece together cold cases

Twenty eight years after John Michael Rains, 22, left his family's Mendocino County home, two Sheriff's Office representatives went back to Ukiah to tell his parents that, in the summer of 1981, Rains fell off ... Full Story
OldFreeDiver

United States

#1 Mar 4, 2009
This work is not being done free. This volunteer is actually paying our bills "in personal time" for the community services we are receiving from him. Even though I have had the good fortune to not loose a family member I can appreciate how it must feel for those who have or have had a missing loved one. My "Hat is off" to Mr. Christopher Smith! Thank you for all those unaware of your gift of time...
SLV

San Francisco, CA

#2 Mar 4, 2009
Thank you Christopher Smith for the good work you are doing.
Keep em Safe

Santa Cruz, CA

#3 Mar 4, 2009
Thank you Mr. Smith

Your time is paying off!
The Lovely Sophie

Santa Cruz, CA

#4 Mar 4, 2009
Thank you very much, Mr. Smith. People like you are a blessing.

May the good Lord always smile down on you.
Steve Carr

Lander, WY

#6 Mar 4, 2009
I have had the pleasure of knowing Christopher Smith for many years. He should be highly commended for the service that he is giving the community, at no cost to the taxpayers.

Mr. Smith contacted me around 12 years ago to say that a serial murderer named Terry Childs had wanted to talk to me about several unsolved, and unreported murders.

With the approval of then Sheriff Mark Tracy and District Attorney Art Danner, myself and former
D.A. Investigator Steve Smith traveled to Soledad
Prison to interview Terry, at Terry's request.

Childs' confessed to a number of murders, including
the 1979 unsolved murder of a school teacher in Reno, Nevada. Childs later pled guilty to that stabbing murder after he had robbed and kidnapped the victim who had just cashed a check at a casino in 1979.

Childs recently faced charges in Santa Clara County for a murder of another woman in the Los Gatos Lexington Reservoir area that occurred in 1979.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Investigation
Division did an outstanding job in 1985 regarding
the murder of a runaway teenager whose body I identified at the morgue when I was a foot patrolman for the City of Santa Cruz Police Department. Terry Childs was convicted of that murder and was sentenced to 42 years to life by retired Judge Chris Cottle after a strong and extremely well done prosecution by former ADA Robert Patterson.

If it had not been for Mr. Smith contacting me, a number of family members of Terry Childs' victims would still be facing a lack of closure at the loss of their loved ones.

Credit should be given to Sheriff Steve Robbins, Lt. Phil Wowak, and the Investigation Division for allowing a "Civilian"(although he is a former Marine) like Mr. Smith to assist the Sheriff's Office and community.

Very sincerely,
Steve Carr,
Retired Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff and former
Santa Cruz Police Officer

Whitefish, Montana
paigey

Santa Cruz, CA

#7 Mar 4, 2009
Lauren Great Job !!!!!!!

Happy you went to that department how exciting.....see you in the halls.
Jana Ashley

Fremont, CA

#8 Mar 4, 2009
It is wonderful and amazing the difference that one person who cares to volunteer their time can make. We should all think about this...instead of zoning out to the TV during our spare time, we could all be making a difference in our world by donating our time and energy to efforts we believe in and / or have skills at.
Local Hoods

United States

#9 Mar 4, 2009
Steve Carr wrote:
I have had the pleasure of knowing Christopher Smith for many years. He should be highly commended for the service that he is giving the community, at no cost to the taxpayers.
Mr. Smith contacted me around 12 years ago to say that a serial murderer named Terry Childs had wanted to talk to me about several unsolved, and unreported murders.
With the approval of then Sheriff Mark Tracy and District Attorney Art Danner, myself and former
D.A. Investigator Steve Smith traveled to Soledad
Prison to interview Terry, at Terry's request.
Childs' confessed to a number of murders, including
the 1979 unsolved murder of a school teacher in Reno, Nevada. Childs later pled guilty to that stabbing murder after he had robbed and kidnapped the victim who had just cashed a check at a casino in 1979.
Childs recently faced charges in Santa Clara County for a murder of another woman in the Los Gatos Lexington Reservoir area that occurred in 1979.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Investigation
Division did an outstanding job in 1985 regarding
the murder of a runaway teenager whose body I identified at the morgue when I was a foot patrolman for the City of Santa Cruz Police Department. Terry Childs was convicted of that murder and was sentenced to 42 years to life by retired Judge Chris Cottle after a strong and extremely well done prosecution by former ADA Robert Patterson.
If it had not been for Mr. Smith contacting me, a number of family members of Terry Childs' victims would still be facing a lack of closure at the loss of their loved ones.
Credit should be given to Sheriff Steve Robbins, Lt. Phil Wowak, and the Investigation Division for allowing a "Civilian"(although he is a former Marine) like Mr. Smith to assist the Sheriff's Office and community.
Very sincerely,
Steve Carr,
Retired Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff and former
Santa Cruz Police Officer
Whitefish, Montana
The Child's family made quite a name for itself back in the 70's and 80's with law enforcement. The father ran a bail bond agency for many years. Terry was spooky looking, the younger brother Stacey was a wanna be convict. They even had a sister who used to frequent the county jail. Terry was always in Tank 3 at the old Front St Jail, baby brother Stacey would always in up in Tank 2 with the mental cases, weirdos and other wanna be bad guys.

So Steve, what happened to your red haired partner Gary? Is he still on the job some where?
Pearl

Aptos, CA

#10 Mar 4, 2009
Nice job--thank you for your hard work. What a nice community service. It's lovely to give closure to families.
mumbofish

Redding, CA

#11 Mar 4, 2009
did they ever find out about the missing teenage girl in Boulder Creek?
Freebie

San Jose, CA

#12 Mar 4, 2009
Wow! 10 comments, and all of them positive. Christopher is obviously a Christ offer. Thank you for your blessed word in our community.
another good idea

Pacific Grove, CA

#13 Mar 4, 2009
Given the cut-backs that all the cities and counties are now facing, wouldn't it be a good idea for these entities to actively outreach to their retired workers, especially those w/ needed skills like Christopher Smith, and encourage them to volunteer for some of these long unmet tasks.

Given the generous retirement package many of them are receiving, perhaps they could be generous to their community in return, just like Mr. Smith.

And Mr. Christopher Smith: You Rock!!!!
Mark

San Jose, CA

#14 Mar 4, 2009
Hi Jana Ashley!

Great to hear families are getting closure and especially great that the Sheriff's Office allowed a citizen volunteer to help out..

Congrats to Lauren, the fingerprint person who really is a blessing to this county.
JFS

Keaau, HI

#15 Mar 4, 2009
The sheriff's has a long history of using volunteers going way, way back. Search & rescue team(which I was member of during the 70' 80's) Current volunteers at the community service centers, and now Mr. Smith. Much Mahalo from an Santa Cruz native and retired law officer. These are dedicated hard working people, all of them.

Yes the Child's are still quite notorious, some of the worst criminals to ever come out of Aptos. They have hurt many innocent people over the years dating back to the early 70's.
ifindmyselffindi ngu

United States

#16 Mar 5, 2009
this is great to see this man cares. i remember reading about him in an unidentified site, i think doe network. i spend alot of time sorting and collecting info and old news articles and even beleive i have 1 or 2 close matches and some tips to families but in attempts to contact law enforcement in the areas of these cases it is a brick wall. i really wonder if crimestoppers checks their messages and in two cases the dispatcher started to argue with me. i understand the purpose of doe network in they narrow down the info and a representative makes the contacts so they are not overwelming a law enf agency. i have come to realize when there are variances in the statisics of a person reported missing and the unided found if their is not a human actually looking at the simularities they sometimes don`t get matched or this happens too when counties and state lines are crossed. so, in short i think all involved here are doing a great thing for the missing loved ones and families. god bless you
CA King-Mahla

San Francisco, CA

#17 Mar 5, 2009
Christopher, It's so good to know that, in your retirement, you have something so valuable to giveback. You always were a brilliant attorney, a creative sailor and much more than you appeared to be in your mild mannered way. Santa Cruz needs you. More now than ever. It saddens me to see the amount of crime in the county and it's good to know that you are working on these cases in order to bring closure to those families involved.
Bravo, Chris! I remember you well! Are still sailing the big blue stick?????:)

It's good to know that you are doing what you desire and are so very good at! BRAVO!
Cheryl King
(San Francisco)
Mary Ann Osterbrink

Tempe, AZ

#18 Aug 7, 2009
How nice to read about this man who has helped us, and see a picture of him. Mr. Smith is the only person in "the system" nationwide who seems to really care, and who knows how it works, plus bothered to tell me!
My adult son with schizophrena (he sneaked out of treatment in SCC) has been wandering the U.S., not eating for days, getting incarcerated for sleeping in empty places, etc. Mr. Smith has become a link to my son just by informing me about that important piece that he is not on the missing persons if he is "checked out" by authorities someplace.
This has made the difference for his dad and I between wondering if he is alive or knowing he is probably still in the last state that he was questioned, or whatever I find out if that agency calls me or Mr. Smith does. Just those few minutes a month give us a lot more sanity.
Bored

Columbus, OH

#19 Dec 10, 2010
You are so full of hot air. Everytime I read a response for you I fall asleep. These blogs are for short answers and not diatribes about how wonderful you are.
Steve Carr wrote:
I have had the pleasure of knowing Christopher Smith for many years. He should be highly commended for the service that he is giving the community, at no cost to the taxpayers.
Mr. Smith contacted me around 12 years ago to say that a serial murderer named Terry Childs had wanted to talk to me about several unsolved, and unreported murders.
With the approval of then Sheriff Mark Tracy and District Attorney Art Danner, myself and former
D.A. Investigator Steve Smith traveled to Soledad
Prison to interview Terry, at Terry's request.
Childs' confessed to a number of murders, including
the 1979 unsolved murder of a school teacher in Reno, Nevada. Childs later pled guilty to that stabbing murder after he had robbed and kidnapped the victim who had just cashed a check at a casino in 1979.
Childs recently faced charges in Santa Clara County for a murder of another woman in the Los Gatos Lexington Reservoir area that occurred in 1979.
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office Investigation
Division did an outstanding job in 1985 regarding
the murder of a runaway teenager whose body I identified at the morgue when I was a foot patrolman for the City of Santa Cruz Police Department. Terry Childs was convicted of that murder and was sentenced to 42 years to life by retired Judge Chris Cottle after a strong and extremely well done prosecution by former ADA Robert Patterson.
If it had not been for Mr. Smith contacting me, a number of family members of Terry Childs' victims would still be facing a lack of closure at the loss of their loved ones.
Credit should be given to Sheriff Steve Robbins, Lt. Phil Wowak, and the Investigation Division for allowing a "Civilian"(although he is a former Marine) like Mr. Smith to assist the Sheriff's Office and community.
Very sincerely,
Steve Carr,
Retired Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff and former
Santa Cruz Police Officer
Whitefish, Montana
P Ross

Carson City, NV

#20 Aug 29, 2012
Kudos! Mr. Smith. If I am not mistaken, weren't you the defense attorney representing Terry Childs during his appeal process for the murder for which he was convicted in 1987?
Tom

Sparks, NV

#21 Dec 29, 2013
Had the pleasure (so to speak) of interviewing both terry and Stacy on different occasions in the jail here in reno, nv.

I was a young deputy and I recall wondering just how many people terry killed. Later I worked homicide as a detective and I thought of terry at various times.

Stacy was a pain in the *** and he we kept him in ad-seg. He especially disliked me, which I rather enjoyed.

Glad to see people looking into the cold cases!

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