Extradited from Netherlands, man charged in 2012 homicide

Murder victim Amber Guillory, suspect David Smith and his wife, Mayra

Amber Nicole Guillory was discovered floating in the water near Pleasure Island in December 2012. A convicted prostitute with a troubled background, Orange police were quite familiar with Guillory, but it was no less shocking when she was found strangled to death that cold winter morning. Months after her death, in April 2013, police reported they knew who did it and that he had been captured. They said he was in the Netherlands awaiting deportation, but soon he would be back in Jefferson County to face charges.

More than two years after Guillory’s death, accused murderer David Carl Smith, 41, is finally back and in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility, but he says police have it all wrong and he was not the one who killed Guillory. He claims to know who did, saying the witness police say accused him of the act was the very person responsible for the crime. 

Police on the other hand, say not only did the primary witness identify Smith as the killer, two other witnesses – who admittedly assisted in dumping the victim’s body – back those claims, all saying they did not go to police sooner because they were terrified of Smith, knowing he had just committed murder.

Just the facts

The Port Arthur Police Department (PAPD) received a call the morning of Dec. 7, 2012, regarding a body floating face down in the water about 2 feet from the bank. According to PAPD Deputy Chief Raymond Clark, officers arrived at the scene near North Levee Road in Pleasure Island at approximately 11:30 a.m. and found a deceased white female. The Port Arthur Fire Department removed the victim from the water and sent the body to the Jefferson Count Morgue for an autopsy. Police later identified the victim as Amber Nicole Guillory, also known as Amber Nicole Glisson, 26, of Vidor.

Guillory was wearing pajama bottoms and a black and gray hoodie top when she was pulled from the water. Clark said PAPD immediately began investigating the death as a homicide.

“We have to work it as a homicide,” Clark said in an interview conducted Dec. 10, 2012. “We found a female floating face down, and we have to take that avenue to get all the details.”

An autopsy would reveal that Guillory was indeed murdered, likely strangled to death the day before her body was discovered.

Smith, the accused, has an extensive criminal history. A database search revealed he was previously arrested Oct. 12, 2003, in Bridge City on charges of assault causing bodily injury to a family member. He later got six years probation with deferred adjudication for an aggravated assault that took place Nov. 6, 2006, which police say was an attack on is own mother, and he then spent time in prison for violating the terms of his probation. In addition to the violent crimes on record for Smith, he was also arrested in the past for charges including burglary of a vehicle, unauthorized use of a vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, and evading arrest/detention.

Police say …

April 17, 2013, Port Arthur police held a press conference announcing the perpetrator of Guillory’s murder, then identified as Smith, had been captured and incarcerated on an immigration violation, saying the Netherlands planned to deport him to the United States where authorities would be waiting to bring him to Jefferson County to face justice.

At the press conference, Deputy Chief Clark said investigators determined Guillory was killed in a room at the Budget Inn at 2465 North St. in Vidor, and her body was moved from that location after her death. According to him, the investigation determined that Guillory was a prostitute, operating primarily in Orange County, and they believe that is how she knew Smith.

The probable cause affidavit leading to the warrant for Smith’s arrest in the murder of Amber Nicole Guillory, penned April 2, 2013, indicated a witness who was reportedly present in the hotel room at the time of the murder said Guillory “demanded compensation from Smith for sexual services (oral sex) she performed upon Smith moments earlier, and Smith refused. As a result of this demand, an argument and subsequent altercation ensued.” The affidavit goes on to say that during the fight, Smith first “beat Guillory down to the floor” and choked her into unconsciousness with his hands. Once unconscious, Smith allegedly used an electrical cord as a “garrote,” cinching it around her throat “depriving her of air for approximately 10 additional minutes until Guillory was dead from strangulation.” The “credible female witness” also reportedly told investigators she physically attempted to stop Smith, who the PC affidavit asserts “told her in no uncertain terms that if she didn’t stay out of his way that he would kill her next.”

Sgt. Scott Gaspard said Smith previously resided in Port Arthur, Orange, Jasper County, and “all over Southeast Texas.” According to him, Smith bought a plane ticket Dec. 26, 2012, 20 days after the killing occurred. He left for the Netherlands on Jan. 10, apparently fleeing, police said.

“He started covering his tracks about four days after the murder,” Gaspard asserted. “That’s when we believe he started planning his escape from the area.”

Police said they believed Smith knew someone in the Netherlands, the reason he sought sanctuary there, and mentioned the name “Mayra” as the potential person in question.

Officers also told media at the press conference that Smith’s YouTube alias was “cowboydave1488,” and he had posted 54 videos, many of which showed Smith apparently high and in possession of or smoking marijuana. But the drugs were not the officers’ main focus; the symbolism behind Smith’s handle was.

According to Clark, “During the investigation, I was informed that 1488 has a significant meaning. It’s affiliated with a white supremacy group.”

He said the numerals are not specific to one certain organization but are common among white supremacists in general. He said the “14” stands for the 14 words: “We must secure the existence of our people and the future for white children.”

The “88” reportedly represents the eighth letter of the alphabet twice over, or HH, for “Heil Hitler,” an assertion confirmed by simply searching the Internet for information pertaining to white supremacist organizations.

The story carried The Examiner’s cover the week of the press conference, and an investigation by the newspaper uncovered Smith had a predilection for the bizarre, revealing his fetish photography business for which he invited women to contact him “to discuss a photo session for a catalog with you as the exclusive model.” He indicated his interests as “all types and sizes and fetish and any genre that you can imagine.”

Smith says …

The Netherlands did not deport Smith, and he was not extradited until long after the April 2013 press conference. In spite of police predictions, an extradition hearing was mandated. Smith’s attorneys also filed for asylum, saying Smith feared for his life in Texas as, he claimed, the victim had family within the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, and he himself, identified by police and correctional officers as a member of the white supremacist group, had enemies inside the gang who would kill him.

“I have had two attacks on my life already by the Aryan Brotherhood,” Smith said in 2013.

In numerous missives and through several hours of exclusive phone interviews, Smith told The Examiner he is not guilty of the murder and accused the primary female witness of being the true culprit.

“I did not kill Amber,” Smith said adamantly on multiple occasions.

He said police were saying he fled the country when in reality he was returning home.

“I live in the Netherlands,” said Smith. “I have been living here for two years (since 2011). The police tried to say that they didn’t know who Mayra was. Well, that’s my wife.”

According to Smith, the female witness police described was his lover, in spite of the fact that Smith has been married to his wife in the Netherlands since Feb. 17, 2012, when they were wed in Orange County, Texas. He also claimed that the woman has family in law enforcement, the reason he said he believes he is being charged instead of her.

His story is that he and the female witness picked up Guillory because they were looking for crack cocaine and were familiar with her as a known user. He said Guillory went with them to get the crack, and they all went back to a room at the Budget Inn to get high. According to Smith, one thing led to another and the three engaged in sexual acts, even though he had heard the rumor that Guillory suffered from AIDS, a rumor confirmed by police. He said he was not the attacker in the fight, and denies that Guillory asked him for payment for services rendered. He asserts that the female witness got into an argument and subsequent physical altercation over a bracelet, and the woman killed Guillory using the electrical cord.

A source close to the case indicated that while the witness is not believed to be the murderer, having first tried to stop Smith during his attack on Guillory, she might have had a hand in the killing, quite literally. According to the source, Smith was able to force her by threat to grab one end of the electrical cord as he strangled the victim.

Police say the female witness was not physically strong enough to have killed Guillory, who they consider the witness’ physical superior and who they believe likely had engaged in self-defense during her time as a prostitute. They also say other witnesses to the aftermath of the event back up the witness’ story naming Smith as the killer, as does the physical evidence.

Smith asserts that as an ordained minister, he would never have killed Guillory. When asked how he reconciles his fetish photography business with being an ordained minister, as he claims, he replied, “I guess that’s kind of messed up.”

He excused his behavior, saying he had seen the error of his ways since he found God. However, his minister’s credentials, issued by the Universal Life Church, which sells the certification online for $8.99, were dated in April 2011, presumably prior to or during the operation of his fetish photography business, the website for which is still up and running. Regardless of which came first, Smith was still soliciting “models” for the business on the Web at the time he was detained in April 2013.

Smith’s wife, Mayra, has stood steadfastly at his side from the time of his arrest and continues to support him. She said she believes that in spite of his prior run-ins with the law, he is innocent of murder.

“David does have a bad record, which makes it all the easier to put it all on him,” she wrote in e-mail correspondence. “People have to realize that [the female witness] has a twisted mind and is not the angel people might think she is. … Believe me, if he was as bad as people think he is, I wouldn’t even consider helping him! Like I said before, I have a good name, no record whatsoever, never did any drugs, so I would never, ever risk all this to be with someone who isn’t worth it. Justice has to be done; that is all we want!”

And then …

After losing his extradition hearing in September 2013, Smith appealed the decision. In November 2014, the extradition was upheld in a courtroom in the Netherlands, killing his chance for asylum, according to his wife. The Netherlands has no death penalty, and as a condition of extradition, authorities in the U.S. had to agree Smith would not face the death penalty, and consequently would not face charges of capital murder.

Smith was finally extradited to the United States on Dec. 19, 2014. He was indicted by a grand jury on Jan. 8 and now faces murder charges. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

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