Man pleads guilty to murder of Timothy Smart

Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 12:11 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A man pleaded guilty Monday to the murder of a man who was reported missing in 1995 in Brunswick County.

Bryan Lee O’Daniels entered his guilty plea to second-degree murder in court Monday as his trial for the murder of Timothy Jason Smart was set to begin. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

O’Daniels was arrested and charged in Smart’s murder in July of 2019 nearly 24 years after Smart went missing.

According to a news release at the time of O’Daniels’ arrest, the Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department reached out to local media in May 2018 to run an update on the cold case. After the story aired, new information led detectives to classify the case as a homicide.

Investigators from several agencies did extensive follow-up work on leads, which resulted in the arrest of O’Daniels.

“The arrest was the result of a yearlong collaborative effort between the Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department, the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, and the State Bureau of Investigation,” the news release stated. “Each agency — along with the case notes from the original reporting officer, Mike Parsons of the Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department — were instrumental in helping bring resolution to this case.”

Timothy Jason Smart
Timothy Jason Smart(Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department)

Officials said that Smart met O’Daniels in the Brunswick County Jail and stayed with O’Daniels at his home when they got out.

July 11, 1995, was the last time Smart’s mom and girlfriend heard from him. He didn’t show up to a new truck driving job on July 17, 1995. In August 1995, Smart’s mother reported him missing. Interviews were conducted but the case went cold.

In May 2018, an anonymous caller gave the State Bureau of Investigation information on Smart’s disappearance, including the name of a person who had additional information. The SBI and Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department followed up on the name provided and over the past several weeks, detectives have conducted interviews.

District Attorney Jon David said a “close circle of friends” — interviewed separately — all had consistent information about the disposal of body, where it was disposed and how it was cleaned it up. Those friends expressed to investigators they feared O’Daniels would retaliate if they spoke up sooner.

Agents with the State Bureau of Investigation and Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department located the remains of Smart, buried in a wooded area off West Boiling Spring Road in September 2019.

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