The case of

Derrick Joseph Robie

Victim

Derrick Joseph Robie

Victim Race

Caucasian

Victim Date of Birth

1980-01-22

Victim Age
Date Reported
Date of Death

1993-08-02

Case Status

Closed

Incident Location

Savona, New York

Body Location

Savona, New York

Date of Conviction

1993-08-08

Body Discovered Date
Murderer

Eric M. Smith committed a violent crime in Steuben County, New York. He brutally murdered a four-year-old child on his way to summer camp. The news that a thirteen year old murdered a child made national headlines.

Who is Eric M. Smith?

When Eric M. Smith’s mother Tammy was pregnant with him, her doctor prescribed her a medication called Trident. Trident, a drug used for treating epilepsy, is known to cause severe congenital disabilities such as a missing kidney, a short nose, and v-shaped eyebrows, and delays in mental and physical development. Yet, when Tammy gave birth to Eric, he appeared healthy.

Eric M. Smith’s father abandoned him and his mother when he was only a toddler. His father, Randy, refused to believe Eric was his son. After Randy left, a paternity test was performed, which proved Randy was indeed Eric’s father. Randy was forced by a court to provide financially for Eric, but he stayed out of his son’s life.

Even though Randy abandoned Tammy and Eric, Tammy had another child with him. Randy accepted his daughter and would pick her up for outings but leave Eric behind. Eric M. Smith formed a bond with his mother’s husband, Ted Smith, who even adopted the red-headed freckled-faced boy.

Ted Smith was warm and compassionate with Eric most of the time. When Eric would come home from school upset due to bullies, Ted was there to comfort him. Eric’s stepfather had a violent side, too, so sometimes Eric would escape the bullies at school only to have to face a bigger one at home.

As Eric M. Smith grew older, the bullying he endured at school intensified. Everyone knew Eric had no friends, and neighbors recalled seeing the lonely boy riding his bicycle alone for hours. Bullies poked fun at Eric’s protruding ears, red hair and freckles, and thick-rimmed glasses. What didn’t help was Eric M. Smith developed a speech impediment due to the stress.

Murder of Derrick Robie

Starting in 1993, Eric M. Smith began to torture animals. Many psychiatrists believe children who enjoy hurting and torturing animals grow bored and soon look for a bigger target, like a person. By the summer of that year, Eric was angry and depressed. He was bullied at school, abused at home, and had no one who loved or supported him.

On August 2, 1993, thirteen-year-old Eric M. Smith was making his way to summer camp at the local park. At the same time, four-year-old Derrick Joseph Robie left his house to go to the same day camp as Eric. Derrick’s mother, Doreen Robie, usually walked her son to the top of the driveway as she could see the park from there, but that morning, Derrick’s baby brother was fussy, so she let her son walk alone.

Eric noticed Derrick walking the same route as him and called him over. He lured the four-year-old into a wooded area, telling Derrick he knew a shortcut to the park. Once Eric led Derrick deep enough into the woods that the two boys were out of sight, he dropped two large rocks on the young boy’s head. Derrick fell to the ground instantly, where Eric then strangled him. In a vile and disturbing act, Eric inserted a branch into Derrick’s bottom, sodomizing the child in death.

Discovery of Derrick Robie and Subsequent Investigation

After removing Derrick’s shoes and posing his body, Eric returned home. He had only been gone for five minutes. At 11:00 AM, Doreen Robie started toward the day camp to pick up her son. The counselors at the summer camp informed her that Derrick didn’t show up that day and no one had seen him. Panicked, Derrick’s mother called the police.

Derrick’s mother knew it was unlike her son to wander off. He was a shy and nervous little boy who had never been out on his own before. Over three hundred people joined in the search for Derrick. Eric M. Smith and his stepfather Ted also joined in on the search party. The search lasted for four hours until Derrick’s body was discovered.

In the days after Derrick’s murder, the police interviewed hundreds of witnesses. On August 5, Eric and his mother went to the police department. Tammy, Eric’s mother, told the police her son had relevant information to their investigation.
Eric informed the police on the day Derrick was murdered; he was in the forest several times but didn’t notice anything.

Later on, August 5, investigators went to Eric M. Smith’s home. They had some questions for him involving the statement he gave earlier. The interview lasted almost an hour; this time, Eric admitted to seeing Derrick. Eric described the clothes Derrick had on and his lunch box. Allegedly Eric saw Derrick across the street, but police doubted he would have been able to see Eric’s clothes clearly from that distance.He also placed himself near the crime scene.

The red-headed boy became emotional and asked the investigators if they thought he had killed Derrick. Eric’s great-grandfather, a former sheriff, asked the investigators to leave. They performed a test and asked Eric to go back to where he said he saw Derrick. Investigators determined Eric could not have seen what he claimed from that distance. He was lying.

Confession

On August 8, Eric M. Smith’s family brought him to the police station after he confessed to murdering Derrick to them. The community was left speechless at the news of Eric’s arrest. It was hard to believe a thirteen-year-old boy could have murdered a 4-year-old child.

In 1994, Eric was found guilty of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to nine years to life in prison. For three years, Eric resided in a juvenile detention center before he was transferred to an adult facility. He was transferred to a maximum security prison in 2001.

Since his incarceration, Eric was denied parole ten times. Derrick’s family opposed his release, and the state still deemed him a threat to the public. Eric was released on parole in February 2022 after twenty-seven years in prison.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened to Derrick Robie?

4-year-old Derrick Robie was murdered by child killer Eric M. Smith.

Where was Derrick Robie found?

Derrick Robie was found in Steuben County.

Who are Derrick Robie’s parents?

Doreen Robie and Dale Robie were Derrick Robie’s parents.

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