Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
One of southeast Iowa's most notorious murderers died of natural causes while in state custody Monday.
Gayno Gilbert Smith murdered five family members in southern Keokuk County in May 1962 and eluded a posse for two days. He died of complications resulting from a spontaneous tear in blood vessels connected to his heart while at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, the Iowa Department of Corrections said.
Smith, 67, was serving five consecutive life sentences for first-degree murder and a 50-year sentence for second-degree murder at the Fort Madison Penitentiary.
Smith, reportedly a quiet, methodical farmhand, expert deer hunter and ex-Marine was 24 years old when he shot and killed his uncle, Andrew McBeth, age unknown; his aunt, Dora Mae McBeth, 42; and their children, Amos and Anna, 19-year-old twins, and Donna Jean McBeth Kellog, 17.
A fourth child, Patsy McBeth, 15, was wounded in the shoulder during the late-night killing spree, but escaped to a neighbor's home. A heavily armed posse ringed a five-square-mile area near Unionville the day after the killings, and dragged Smith out of a hayloft near Lake Wapello State Park, northeast of Bloomfield in rural Davis County, two days later.
According to news accounts at the time, the manhunt began at 2 a.m. on Sunday, May 27, 1962, when Patsy, sobbing with fright and pain, stumbled into a neighbor's home in rural Hayesville and screamed, "Gayno shot us. I know Mother and Dad are dead. I know they're all dead. I don't know why he did it. I don't know why he did it."
According to reports at the time, Smith had taken the McBeth children to a dance in Brighton, that Saturday night. He then slipped away from the dance and returned to the farm to kill Andrew and Dora Mae McBeth, firing four shots through the living room window with an over-under 410-caliber shotgun and 22-caliber rifle combination.
For the complete story, read the May 18 Fairfield Ledger.