Serial Killer With No Motive – How Gayno Smith Terrorized Southeast Iowa near Keokuk
Gayno Smith lived a troubled life. Between moving around the country, not having a consistent place of work, and being dismissed by his family, he did not lead what was considered to be a typical livelihood.
According to the Southeast Iowa Union, Smith was "reportedly a quiet, methodical farmhand, expert deer hunter, and ex-Marine," who had had issues living in Denver Colorado, and proceeded to move back to Iowa to live with his step-mother. Following problems there, he went on to live with his aunt, uncle, and four cousins in the tiny town of Martinsburg, Iowa. Today, Martinsburg has a population of just 112.
Little did this family, the McBeths, know that allowing him to stay with them would be the worst decision they ever made.
The article continues: "According to reports at the time, Smith had taken the McBeth children (Amos, Anna, Donna Jean, and Patsy Lou) to a dance in Brighton, that Saturday night." Donna Jean left her infant son with the family, as she normally did.
It's said he had left the dance after a short time, and he didn't return until midnight to pick up the three children.
With a nasty thunderstorm going on that night, the group came back to a silent house with no power. The quartet of McBeths gathered flashlights to investigate.
Upon entry of the garage, they found their parents -- Dora and Andrew -- shot and killed on the floor, where they had been dragged. Reportedly, Smith had fired "four shots through the living room window with an over-under 410-caliber shotgun and 22-caliber rifle combination," killing them before slugging their bodies out from their place of death. He did this before returning to pick up the children after the dance.
The remaining McBeth's tried calling for help but found that the phone lines had been cut.
According to Murderpedia, "Suddenly, Smith appeared before them with a flashlight and a gun. He shot Amos in the face, then Donna. He shot Patsy in the shoulder. Though badly wounded, Amos pleaded for his life but was shot again. Patsy escaped to another room where she found her older sister, Anna, already dead."
After she somehow bolted out of the house, Patsy was able to avoid Smith en route to another farmhouse in the area. She made it "sobbing with fright and pain," and screamed
Gayno shot us. I know Mother and Dad are dead. I know they're all dead. I don't know why he did it.I don't know why he did it.
Reports say that "A heavily armed posse ringed a five-square-mile area near Unionville the day after the killings, and dragged Smith out of a hayloft near Lake Wapello State Park, northeast of Bloomfield in rural Davis County, two days later."
Per Wikipedia, "After being arrested, he confessed both to the McBeth murders in Martinsburg and also to the murder of his stepmother, Juanita Smith, the previous October in Hedrick, Iowa." She had previously been considered missing for months.
It continues: "Infant Perry was adopted by his uncle Firman, Andrew McBeth's brother, and raised with Firman's own nine biological children."
Smith would be sentenced to five consecutive life sentences for first-degree murder and a 50-year sentence for second-degree murder at the Fort Madison Penitentiary. According to the Iowa Department of Corrections, he passed in 2005 of "complications resulting from a spontaneous tear in blood vessels connected to his heart while at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City."