Published October 22, 2012
A pregnant New Yorker whose killer left a strange note warning that more expectant mothers will die unless the infamous "DC Sniper" is released from prison was engaged to a married man, police said.
Investigators have questioned Anthony Jackman, who was identified as the fiance of Vindalee Smith, 28, who was found murdered in her Brooklyn apartment on Saturday evening. The two were set to wed on the next day in a small ceremony at her church, but Jackman is still legally married to an unidentified woman in New Jersey.
Police said Jackman and his current wife are estranged, with Jackman living with his mother during the week and the wife living in their former home. Jackman was one of several of Smith's friends and family members interviewed by police. He was released, though police said no one has been cleared as a suspect.
Most of Smith's friends said they had not known her fiance long, if at all, and some didn't know his name.
In other developments, a law enforcement source close to the investigation told the New York Post that the killer had left a bizarre note underneath Smith’s body which threatened that one pregnant woman a week would be killed until serial shooter Lee Boyd Malvo is released from prison. Malvo, who was just 17 at the time, and John Muhammad were convicted of the 2002 Washington, D.C.-area sniper attacks that left 10 people dead.
The single page, computer-printed message was typed in big, black block letters: "I will kill 1 pregnant woman a month starting now until Lee Boyd Malvo is set free!" The note was signed "the apprentice" with a smiley face and is not being ruled out, but investigators are skeptical, believing that the note may have been a ruse to throw them off.
Sources told the Post that there is no indication of a connection between the victim, her killer and Malvo who is serving life in prison with no chance for parole. Muhammad was executed in 2009.
Smith, 38, was found with a gaping neck wound on the floor of her apartment in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn on Saturday night by her landlord. It wasn’t immediately known how long she had been dead. Her unborn child did not survive.
Police officials said that there was no sign of forced entry into Smith’s apartment and that no weapon was recovered.
Smith had four children in their teens and 20s, friends said. A baby shower had been planned for Saturday evening, followed by a small wedding Sunday at the New Dimension Church. Friends told reporters that Smith had met her fiancé about a year ago.
Smith was a devout Seventh Day Adventist and congregation members were concerned when she didn't show up for morning service.
The victim was an unemployed health care worker and had recently moved into the apartment where she was killed.
When she was nowhere to be found on Friday, her landlord had a duplicate key made and went to check for her when he made the grisly discovery, according to Fox 5 New York.
The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.