Eric Smothers died on February 21 after he was attacked by unknown assailants in a city park. He had been in Page less than a week, after spending much of the past year in communities in San Juan County.
Smothers, a 57-year-old black man from Baltimore, MD, was highly visible in area communities. He was befriended by a number of local residents, who knew him only by his first name and who were shocked to hear of his death.
Law enforcement officials have not made an arrest in the case, which is the first homicide in Page in more than ten years. A reward for information on the case has grown to $3,000.
Smothers camped at various times in La Sal, Monticello, Blanding, Bluff and Cortez, CO. Local residents soon learned that his imposing size belied a docile man who was very private.
“We talked to him after he arrived in Monticello and soon learned that he wouldn’t bother anyone,” said Monticello Police Chief Kent Adair. Adair said that when he learned Smothers suffered from mental illness, he tried to set up some counseling services.
In Blanding, Smothers camped across the street from Clark’s Market and befriended Robert Ogle, a store employee. Ogle said that Smothers asked no one for help and politely refused all assistance.
Ogle said, ““Eric exhibited great intelligence. He was well read and capable of conversing on a wide range of topics from animal husbandry to politics. He had a daily physical workout routine, including martial arts. He carried with him a small library of books, including a Bible, which he read regularly. He had an appreciation and affinity for the outdoors. Often he would turn his face to the midday sun and declare, ‘Time for my daily dose of vitamin D.’”
When winter weather hit, a number of local residents expressed concern for Smothers, who told Ogle that for him, a greater concern than cold weather was getting wet.
The Arizona Daily Sun reports officers in Baltimore were able to locate Smothers’ mother, and notified her of his death. The last time his mother heard from him, he was in South Dakota and planning to pursue animal husbandry.