The following is an excerpt from Predator, The Man Who Didn’t Exist; Do You Know How to Fly? It is the first chapter. I already posted part of it and this is the entire chapter complete now.
Birth of an Evil Seed
Delmer Smith III was born July 19, 1971 in Detroit, Michigan to a couple who are now both deceased. He is one of multiple children from this mixed-race union. His mother, Velma Shelton, was white and his father was black. Delmer is light skinned, light enough to pass for being white in many circumstances. The mixed bloodlines will provoke identification confusion in the future when, as an adult, he is the suspect in several crimes.
He is given his father’s name and the family happily pronounces him to be Delmer the 3rd. His name, and that of his father, is a variant of Delmar (also used within the family) and comes from Spanish and “Old” French. It means “of the sea.” The choice is, perhaps prophetic in an eerie way.
The sea is a mercurial place. It can be calm, inviting, sublime, and soft at one point in time and then, with little if any warning, it will become treacherous, evil, violent, destructive, a merciless killer. And, so it was to be with Delmer the 3rd. As it is for the sea, he also will be a mystery to those he meets in life. Michele Quinones, his onetime fiancé, told me as she was trying to make sense of their relationship, “He was the man who didn’t exist.”
She went on to say to me, “I recall one day we were fishing and he was standing off behind me and I looked up at him. He didn’t know I was watching him. What I saw was a man stripped for a moment of what or who he was. He was so soft standing there, a little boy. So strange,” she smiled as she thought back. “He was so at peace. And yet, there is this other Delmer that I did not know or even suspect might exist. I saw him for what he might have been, what he could have been, not as he was.”
He was a burglar. He had a weird sexual appetite. He preyed on women who were elderly, or close to being so. Moreover, he was a brutal killer without compassion for his victims, or sense of guilt for what he did to them.
This is a man who is an enigma to many—perhaps even to himself. In his wake will be both terror and love as well as questions—questions that no one will ever be able to fully answer.
The newborn entered the world as all children do, coated in a wet blanket of blood and body fluids from his mother, which left his small wrinkled body coated in a shining slime that needed to be hurriedly washed off. But first, so his mother could touch him, the doctor laid him up high on her stomach. The newborn wriggled about and let go a torrent of crying while the doctor clamped and cut the umbilical cord. Then, nurses carefully lifted him and took him over to a table and water to clean him up.
He was quite a sight, all slick and slimy from the birth, his lungs sucking in huge gulps of air to expel in great rips of crying in protest for having been taken from a warm place and thrust into cool air beneath blinding lights, assaulted by monstrous noises, and unknown things touching him while his arms and legs swatted here and there and at everyone around him as he let his anger be known. Soon, they brought him back to Velma, wrapped tightly in a soft blue blanket and laid him down so she could hold him close. It was only a short while later that Velma and the baby were transported to her room where she could spend more time examining and loving on her baby. And then a small flood of waiting relatives and friends arrived to greet her and the newborn.
Exhausted, he had closed his eyes and drifted into a deep sleep ignoring the trip down the hall on the stretcher to where they lifted he and his mother onto her hospital bed. It was much later that he felt someone tugging on his blanket and holding his tiny hands.
He opened his eyes to the harsh glare of ceiling lights and a cloud of faces peering down at him all with smiles beaming well wishes. But he didn’t understand all that and he didn’t understand why they were holding his hands and marveling at how strong he was. “What a grip,” someone said. “Just look at how he holds on.” Little could the friends and relatives surrounding him then imagine that those tiny hands would grow and one day beat, sexually assault, drag, and even kill women not much older than his own mother was then.
Then he was surrounded in safety and comfort by his parents, brothers, sisters, other family members, and a handful of family friends. They most assuredly were like others when addressing a new born for the first time. They would have remarked at how tiny his fingers and toes were in comparison to theirs. Perhaps they marveled about how strong the tiny hands were as his fingers curled about theirs and tightened, never suspecting that those fingers one day would be suspected of curling around a baseball bat and beating a woman to death in Sarasota, Florida.
They would have laughed as they tried to get his attention by making odd sounds and tickling him. And he, like all newborns, probably just yawned and looked this way and that, not focusing on any one person or thing. They would have wondered about his future. They surely laughed and were excited about his prospects and, like many parents and well-wishers do, probably even imagined him becoming some famous and wealthy person, maybe even the President of the United States. However, it was not to be. A bad seed is hard to recognize when so tiny. He would become famous, in a sense, as he terrorized parts of Sarasota and Manatee Counties because of the brutality of his crimes.
It is doubtful that anyone present in Delmer Smith’s life then would have dared to predict, or could have imagined, that thirty-eight years later this then tiny bundle of life would be under arrest and accused of being a violent serial rapist, home invader, burglar, murderer, and suspected drug trafficker. All they would have seen before them then, wrapped in a soft blue hospital blanket, was a baby reaching up, sleepy eyed, with curling fingers and toes, stretching, a wonder of life.
No one could have anticipated his troubled youth or his struggle with education. This child would repeat the second grade, and then the third, the fourth, and the fifth. At age fourteen, and in the fifth grade, he was surrounded by nine and ten year olds. Then, suddenly, he was promoted to the ninth grade skipping all the years between, and placed into a special needs class. Testing would determine his verbal IQ to be seventy, one point above “retarded.”
Not one of his then admirers saw the monster he would become. However, as he grew older, there were several neighborhood events, referred to anonymously by those who knew him as a child, which surfaced in and before his teenage years, that were indicative of a troubled future. No one then recognized his lack of impulse control that would plague him. It would not be identified until he was much older and then on trial for his life.
Nevertheless, Delmer Smith has another side to him that was noted by Michele Quinones. It was also discussed in open court during the presentencing stage of his murder trial when the defense introduced two of his family members who, as young girls, had their lives significantly influenced by his interactions with them over the years.