[NOTE: This story contains graphic details from the criminal complaint.]
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 32-year-old western Wisconsin man allegedly told investigators that he was hearing signals last week when he attempted to kill an elderly relative by hitting him with chunks of wood and then cutting his throat with a knife.
Duane Smith Jr. told Polk County authorities that he was receiving mental signals last Friday before he attacked his 77-year-old granduncle, court documents say. Smith told investigators that he had intended to kill his older relative.
However, the 77-year-old man survived the attack at his home in Clear Lake, and drove off Smith with a shotgun. The man called 911, and emergency crews airlifted him to a Twin Cities hospital. As of Monday, he was in stable condition.
Shortly after the attack, police found Smith and arrested him. He is facing charges of first-degree intentional homicide, aggravated battery and a misdemeanor count of bail jumping, court documents filed in Polk County, Wisconsin, show.
According to a criminal complaint, Smith told investigators that earlier last Friday he was searching for a man he believed to be molesting children. He took a friend’s car from his home in Glenwood and drove about 15 miles north to the Clear Lake area.
Smith allegedly told investigators that he began entering trailers, heeding the signals in his mind. When he didn’t find the alleged molester, he believed he had failed and would soon be “released.”
Thinking he needed to say goodbye to his relatives, he began driving to his grandmother’s home in Reeve. Along the way, he told police he was moved to see his granduncle, the complaint states. After helping the 77-year-old with chores, Smith told investigators he received a signal to kill him.
When asked to retrieve a Pepsi, Smith brought the can to his uncle and struck him in the head with it. Smith then took pieces of wood and hit the man in the head several times, the complaint states.
The older man asked Smith to stop, Smith told investigators. In response, Smith said that he told his granduncle that he loved him but had to do it.
After seeing that his granduncle was bloodied by the blows to the head but still alive, Smith got a knife from the kitchen and cut the man’s throat in an attempt to kill him quickly. Smith then ran off, but soon returned to retrieve a camera.
Smith said he was taking pictures of the blood on the porch when he noticed his granduncle loading a shotgun inside the home. Smith fled to the car and told investigators that he thought he heard a gunshot as he was driving off.
Smith returned to his home in Glenwood where police soon found him. Before officers arrived, he reported that he took several pieces of methamphetamine paraphernalia outside. He told investigators that the last time he used the drug was the day before.
If convicted of the first-degree intentional homicide charge, Smith faces up to 60 years in prison.