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86-year-old man arrested for 1967 spine-break killing of baby girl

Keith Smith is alleged to have murdered the child in the 1960s and was living as a free man

Amelia Neath
Friday 08 September 2023 17:44 BST
The killer had been living freely for over five decades before investigators worked to solve the cold case
The killer had been living freely for over five decades before investigators worked to solve the cold case (KRDO)

A man who police say murdered a baby girl in the 1960s and has lived freely for over five decades was arrested on Thursday.

Keith Emmanuel Smith, 86, is being indicted by a grand jury for the death of 14-month-old Roxanne Marie Archuletta and is facing a second-degree murder charge, according to court documents.

It is alleged he killed the child by breaking her spine on 3 November 1967.

While the 55-year-old cold case had remained unsolved, Mr Smith lived in the small town of Florence, Colorado, where he was arrested at his home on East 3rd Street near Pioneer Park.

Local residents were shocked to find out that the alleged killer lived right next to the park where their kids play.

“It’s terrifying. For me personally, I have a 14-month-old daughter, it’s just awful,” Janelle Dodd, a Florence resident told KRDO.

According to cemetery records attained by the Canton City Daily Record, the baby girl died from an “unknown” cause at her parent’s home , which was a 12-minute walk from Mr Smith’s residence on East 3rd Street.

Keith Emmanuel Smith was arrested at his house in the small village of Florence, a few blocks away from where he is alleged to have murdered the baby (KRDO)

The case was reopened in 2021 by two Florence Police Department detectives, Jeff Whorley and Alex Wold, according to District Attorney Linda Stanley. The investigation included the remains of the 14-month-old being disinterred in March 2022, according to cemetery records.

“Although we are still very early in the process, we are excited to be able to utilize the grand jury in our attempt to solve this cold case and bring justice to the victims,” District Attorney Stanley said.

Mr Smith is being held at Fremont County Jail on a $10,000 cash or surety bond.

The baby’s 1967 obituary states that she was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Archuletta and was also survived by a sister, the Canon City Daily Record reports.

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