Smyrna man kills himself in police chase after abducting his wife to West Virginia

SMYRNA — A 26-year-old Smyrna man died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in West Virginia after reportedly abducting his estranged wife early Thursday morning, Delaware State Police said.

Steven R. Smith was found deceased in his wife’s vehicle that crashed at least 225 miles and a 4-1/2 hour drive from Smyrna in Moorfield. A chase began at approximately 11:10 a.m., West Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. W.M. Roden said in a news release.

At approximately 8:45 a.m., West Virginia police were notified by Delaware law enforcement that Mr. Smith had abducted his 28-year-old wife in Smyrna, possibly at gunpoint, and fled the state, Sgt. Roden said.

The vehicle was described as a blue, 2002 Ford Focus with Delaware registration, police said, and West Virginia police learned that cell phone traces showed that Mr. Smith and his wife were traveling throughout Hardy and Grant counties, authorities said. According to Sgt. Roden, “law enforcement officers were unable to locate the subjects due to time delays with the telephone trace information.”

Eventually, authorities said, the Moorefield Police Chief S.D. Reckart located the vehicle headed north on U.S. 220. Mr. Smith began to flee following an attempted traffic stop at a BP gas station on Main Street in Moorfield, authorities said.

The police chief was joined in an ensuing pursuit by Hardy County Sheriff’s Department members through various streets of Moorfield and eventually south on U.S. 220 toward Petersburg, Sgt. Roden said. Deployed stop sticks damaged the Ford’s tires at various locations, police said, but Mr. Smith continued to flee.

As the chase continued into Petersburg, police said, Grant County Sheriff Brian Ours and Chief Deputy Steven Wratchford took the primary pursuit position. Mr. Smith continued onto W.V. Route 28/55 (Keyser Avenue) where the officers attempted to perform a rolling roadblock, police said. Mr. Smith struck both patrol cruisers with his vehicle, which police said resulted in the Ford sliding out of control and into an embankment, according to authorities.

Approaching officers found Mr. Smith dead in the vehicle and his wife located in the rear seat, police said. The woman was taken to Grant Memorial Hospital in Petersburg with non-life threatening injuries. No other injuries were reported.

WVSP said the incident is being investigated by the Moorefield/Petersburg Detachment.

Called to residence

According to DSP, the sequence began at approximately 2:34 a.m. Thursday when the woman’s boyfriend called 911 and reported that she had asked for help. Troopers were immediately dispatched to a residence in the Holy Hill Mobile Home Park, spokeswoman Master Cpl. Melissa Jaffe said. The man believed his girlfriend was abducted by Mr. Smith.

Troopers arrived at the residence and found a damaged front door. They went inside and did not locate the woman, police said. Cpl. Jaffe said, “It was learned that the victim and Smith had an extensive domestic history and he recently threatened to kill her.”
A Gold Alert for the woman was issued, police said.

Cpl. Jaffe said a vehicle Mr. Smith rented was found in the mobile home park. Through investigation, police said, the man and his wife were determined to be traveling in the West Virginia area.

When found in the vehicle, according to police, the woman said she was abducted and assaulted by Mr. Smith, who said he was going to kill her and then kill himself.

The car rented by Mr. Smith was towed to DSP Troop 3 and searched when a warrant was obtained, police said. It was scheduled to be returned to the rental agency Friday, authorities said.

DSP said Friday that the case remains under investigation.

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