Family Offers $10,000 Reward for Information About Missing Alabama Preacher's Wife

Three weeks after the wife of an Alabama minister disappeared while attending a conference, her family is posting a reward while police are struggling to find clues to her whereabouts.

The family of Mary Byrne "Beth" Smith is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to whereabouts or her safe return after she disappeared March 24 while attending a religious conference in Bossier City, La.

"There have been no new developments in the case," said Mark Natale, a spokesman for the Bossier City Police Department. "Detectives still have no indication that foul play was a factor in Mrs. Smith's disappearance."

The 30-year-old wife of Rev. Jason Smith was attending Living Proof Live, a women's conference at the Bossier City CenturyTel Center when she vanished March 24.

"We hope that it does generate some more information coming in, certainly information that will help locate Mrs. Smith," Natale said, in reference to the reward.

Bossier City police received several tips over the weekend from callers saying they had seen Smith in Alabama, including Summerdale, but the sightings could not be confirmed, Natale told

At a press conference last week, police indicated that personal problems might have led Smith to flee on her own to start a new life.

"After detectives did background information, we learned a little bit more that led us to believe that possibly Mrs. Smith has chosen to leave on her own and form a new life," Bossier City Police Chief Mike Halphen said April 5.

Troubled Past

At that press conference, police outlined a chain of events that led them to believe that the kindergarten teacher might have disappeared on her own.

In December, Smith told staff at Elsanor Elementary School in Robertsdale, Ala., where she taught kindergarten, that she had divorced her husband, the leader of the First Baptist Church in Summerdale, when in fact she hadn't, Halphen said.

Strange behavior also raised eyebrows. Smith had a suspicious fall and asked teachers where she could find prescription pain medication, Halphen said.

Smith also reported her purse stolen, but police later found it in her desk at school. The purse contained empty prescription bottles along with the contents she reported missing.

"The principal felt like she was under the influence of some type of either alcohol or drugs," Halphen said. "She was drug tested recently and it came back positive."

Following the Feb. 2 drug test, the school decided to dismiss Smith, effective at the end of the school year.

"With all this information, as you can see, it's very easy to see that there is a great possibility she decided to leave on her own and maybe planned this out by coming to the Bossier City area and then leaving," Halphen said.

Vanishing Into Thin Air

On March 23, Mary Byrne Smith checked into the Shreveport Courtyard Marriott Financial Plaza with her friend Jenny Gipson. The pair planned to attend Living Proof Live, a two-day women's religious conference led by evangelist Beth Moore.

The following day, the pair returned to the CenturyTel Center in Bossier City to hear Moore speak on living a life of spiritual victory by growing in one's faith in God.

"At 11 o'clock that day, she told her companion that she was going to go to the concession stand and use the restroom, and it was the last time that Mrs. Smith was seen," Halphen said.

Gipson reported Smith missing that afternoon.

At the time of the event, some 30 police officers were stationed in the arena to help control the approximately 14,000 people who attended the conference.

"We felt like if she were under duress, if somebody tried to force her somewhere, that it would have been very easy to holler help with 14,000 people standing around you," Halphen said.

Bossier City police used dogs, helicopters, airplanes and boats to search the area in the days following her disappearance.

"We're going to look at this two-fold: Foul play, as well as she decided to walk off," Halphen said.

Cops continue to scan surveillance video from the arena, but they have yet to identify Smith in the 56 hours of footage.

Neither Smith's credit cards nor her cell phone have been used since she disappeared, cops said. She is believed to have had only about $40 cash with her.

"There is no charges against her," Halphen said. "She has done nothing wrong except has left a family and her friends and her town wondering what has happened to her."

Last week, Halphern pleaded for her to call if she had indeed left on her own accord.

"I want her to understand that if she is out there that we just want to know she's OK," he said. "We don't want to trace any calls.

"Go to an Internet café, go to a pay phone," he continued. "Anyway she can contact us — a family friend, somebody that knows her — to say 'I have decided to do this on my own and I'm OK,' that's all we want to know."

Smith, who goes by the name Beth, is described as a 5-foot-3-inch white woman weighing 100 pounds. Both her hair and her eyes are brown. She has a sun tattoo on her back shoulder.

Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call the Bossier City Police Department at 318-741-8605.