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‘It’s like being in hell’: Mother of tortured murder victim says son was killed by childhood friend

Updated: Jan. 28, 2021 at 10:41 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A man who was killed in a gruesome murder is believed to have died at the hands of his own childhood friend, the victim’s mother told WAVE 3 News Troubleshooters in an exclusive interview.

According to Louisville Metro Police Department Homicide Unit detectives, Jeremy Lind was killed after being kidnapped at gunpoint, tied up, and tortured while his girlfriend was forced to watch.

Robert Smothers, 40, and Samantha Johnson, 31, have been arrested and charged for the crime.

Lind’s mother, Delores, remembered Smothers, who they called “Bo,” as her son’s childhood friend, someone who spent summers in their home during their childhood.

“He was like family,” she said. “What they did can never be explained.”

Jeremy Lind’s body was found disfigured and dumped off Lenz Avenue in late September. Homicide detectives would later find out Lind and his girlfriend had been kidnapped at gunpoint while they slept. They were then beaten, forced to eat dog food and were “deprived of basic human rights” according to court documents.

The records state the victims were pistol-whipped, and the woman was forced to clean Lind’s blood while he was unconscious. Lind’s hands and feet were allegedly bound by rope, and a ligature was tied around his neck.

Lind was beaten so severely that his mouth structure was completely rearranged and he was left unrecognizable, according to documents. His tongue was also removed and placed in a foil ball that was then pushed into his mouth, causing him to choke and ultimately die.

“You just sit here sometimes and just cry,” Delores Lind said. “It’s like being in hell the last four, five months.”

She said she has lost 38 pounds since her son’s death and can’t sleep.

She also remembers her son with the fondness and love that only mothers feel.

“He was a big baby, you can tell,” she said while pointing at a baby picture hanging in her living room. “He was a mama’s boy. He hung onto mama. Wherever mama went, he was there.”

“There’s a place there that’s going to be empty for the rest of my life,” she continued. “I’ll never, ever get over it. Never.”

Lind had several children; the oldest one was just 14.

“I want them to know that he was the best son you’d ever want,” his mother said said. “I could call him and he’d be here, he was a good daddy.”

Delores said that her son would feed the homeless if he saw them hungry or help someone he saw struggling.

Delores Lind said she had been waiting for news of an arrest since her son’s body was found on Sept. 30.

“He worked hard on this case,” she said of the lead detective. “He didn’t let nothing get by.”

Both Smothers and Johnson are currently in jail. Both are facing charges that include complicity to wanton endangerment, murder, assault, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence.

The motive for the murder still hasn’t been publicly identified.

Delores Lind said she wishes no harm on the suspects because they too have mothers, she said. However, she said she is happy they are now behind bars, especially the man she once welcomed into her home as a boy.

“I don’t know if I could say, ‘I forgive you,’ or not,” she said of Smothers. “I might, and I might not, but I’ll always remember.”

Smothers was booked into Louisville Metro Department of Corrections and charged with complicity to murder, assault, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, abuse of a corpse, tampering with physical evidence, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and wanton endangerment.

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