Arrest affidavit from McNaughton slaying released

Here is the affidavit for arrest warrant filed with the 9th Judicial District Court by Clovis Police Detective Roman J. Romero:

On 121005 at about 1424 hours, Deputies of the Curry County Sheriffs Office and the New Mexico State Police were dispatched to the area of Curry County Road C and County Road 16. Two subjects, who had been out hunting, had located what appeared to be a dead body. When deputies arrived, the scene was secured and the Major Crimes Unit was activated. A crime scene was conducted during which an empty Bud Light bottle was found in the area of the crime scene. This was collected and placed into evidence.

The body was that of a petite, white female, aged in her late twenties to early thirties. The female was nude, and appeared to have marks consistent with bludgeoning on her forehead. There was no identification with the body or clothing in the area of the scene. The only mark on the body that may discern the female was a tattoo of a butterfly on her lower back. There were marks on her body, scratches and scrapes on her lower body and circular bruising on her middle back. The body was transported to Muffley Funeral Home for further investigation. Once at the funeral home, Officers believed that the female was a person known to them as Laura McNaughton, a waitress at a local restaurant. At about 2000 hours, I was contacted by Lt. Grah of the Clovis Police Department. Lt. Grah advised that the female was positively identified as Laura McNaughton, by her ex-husband, Jeff McNaughton.

A search warrant was generated for Laura McNaughton’s residence at 308 Burro Trail. During the search of this warrant, Officers noted an empty Bud Light beer bottle in the trash in the house. Interviews with Laura McNaughton’s family relayed information that Laura McNaughton would not drink beer, and it’s very abnormal for her to have beer in her refrigerator.

Laura McNaughton’s body was found in a slightly overgrown culvert on County Road C. The culvert had dried foliage, some tumble weeds, and other weeds that had grown very straight and tall. Laura McNaughton is a petite female, who has reddish brown dyed hair. She had her hair recently cut by her stylist, Jennifer Rubio, in the afternoon hours of 12095. McNaughton’s body positioned, laying face up, her right arm across her lower abdomen. Her legs had abrasions and scrapes. Her forehead also had an abrasion. Laura McNaughton was transported from the funeral home to the Office of the Medical Investigator for autopsy.

During autopsy, the OMI reported that Laura McNaughton had non life threatening blunt force injuries to her head, and had died as a result of asphyxiation, having sustained damage to her throat. OMI coroner stated that the abrasions on her legs may be the result of a rough surface rubbing against the legs. Officers asked if the bed of the truck lined with a “rhino lining” may be able to produce those marks. Officers were advised that this was possible. The coroner also stated that based on the amount of food still in her stomach, Laura McNaughton died between 2145 and 2330 hours.

Laura McNaughton’s mother and daughter were questioned by Investigators about any persons whom Laura may have expressed concerns or reservations about. McNaughton’s family advised that there were three persons, to include a dentist who was “weirding” her out. The dentist had been described as a white male who was blonde and slightly balding. Jennifer Rubio, Laura McNaughton’s hair stylist also stated Laura McNaughton had told her there was a dentist who made her uncomfortable. Officers began investigating these persons, and the dentist.

On 121205, Officers attempted to locate a dentist in this area and made contact with La Casa de Buena Salud, named James Smith. District Attorney Matthew Chandler was contacted by his office and a James Smith had attempted to contact him. District Attorney Chandler returned Smith’s call and Smith was requested to come to the police department. James Smith is a dentist, who works for La Casa de Buena Salud at the offices located at 1515 West Fir in Portales, New Mexico, and 1521 West 13th Street, in Clovis, Curry County, New Mexico.

On his arrival to the police department, James Smith was interviewed by Deputies Parker and Loomis of the Curry County Sheriffs Office. During interview, Deputy Loomis asked Smith if he knew Laura McNaughton. Smith initially stated that he didn’t know Laura McNaughton, then stated that he did know her through the restaurant, Rib Crib, where she works. According to other Rib Crib employees, Smith would commonly come in on Fridays, and leave large tips, about $20, for Laura McNaughton. Smith stated that his relationship with Laura McNaughton was very limited, although Smith knew that Laura McNaughton was a single mother with two children, had gone to San Diego for Thanksgiving, and was currently a student. Smith stated that McNaughton would seek him out when he would come to the restaurant. This is counter to the information relayed by other Rib Crib employees who stated that Smith, when he would come in, would wait for Laura McNaughton and would seek out her wait stations. Smith’s statements are counter to other information relayed by other interviewees in reference to him. As the interview progressed, Smith stated that he had gone to Rib Crib to have a beer and give her a $20 tip. During the interview, Smith advised that he had been out drinking alcoholic beverages, Budweiser Light Beer, with friends (Eddie Adkins), and had returned home to drink more beer on 12/09/05, Friday night. Adkins was contacted by Deputies who confirmed this. James Smith stated that his family was out of town Friday night, his wife was in Amarillo, Texas and his children were in Oklahoma. His wife, children and he, are all blonde haired. Smith stated that he called his wife in Texas at about 2200 hours on Friday and then again at about 0001 hours. This is within the possible time of death for Laura McNaughton.

Following this interview, Deputy Loomis received written consent to search James Smith’s vehicle, a 2004 green in color, Ford Super duty Truck, bearing New Mexico license plate GYN830. During the search of this truck, Deputy Parker found a medium length brownish hair on the right rear floorboard of the vehicle. The color of this hair is consistent with the hair color of Laura McNaughton. A dried piece of weed was found in the pocket of the right rear door. The weed is similar to the weed found at the crime scene. Based on the placement of the weed in the vehicle, I believe that it is possible that the weed may have been severed from its stalk by the closing of the door of the vehicle.

Based on this, on 121205 at about 2155 hours, a search warrant was generated and served for James Smith’s vehicle, a 2004 Ford Truck. Pursuant to the search warrant, hairs, blood evidence, and other evidence were recovered from the vehicle. Blood evidence was seized from the running board of the vehicle. Smith was also asked to come to the Police Department for a second interview in reference to the murder of Laura McNaughton.

Investigator Bessette of the District Attorney’s Office and Deputy Parker of the Curry County Sheriffs Office conducted this interrogation. James Smith was advised of his rights and was interviewed. During the interview, information about the blood evidence, hair, and other evidence recovered from the Ford truck, was presented to James Smith. When Smith was asked about the items, and what he thought, Smith stated that “it doesn’t look good.” James Smith could not relay any answer as to why any blood evidence was on his vehicle. James Smith had earlier relayed to Law Enforcement that he had called his wife at 2200 hours and again at about midnight on 120905. Smith’s wife, Angie, was asked about the calls, and advised that she had tried to call James five to ten times between those hours, but was unable to contact him. James Smith countered this, stating that he had been outside his home smoking cigarettes during this time. As the interview continued James Smith uttered the following, “I was there, I was there alone, we were watching…” This statement was made by James Smith without any questioning to illicit that type of answer, based on this, I believe the statement he made to be an utterance of the truth made with no conscious thought to control it. I interpret this statement to mean that he was party to some activity involving Laura McNaughton. I believe this, because, James Smith’s family was not in Clovis, New Mexico the evening of 120905. James Smith was allowed to leave the Police Department during the early morning hours of 121305.

On 121305, at about 1446 hours, Deputies of the Curry County Sheriffs Department responded to 464 State Road 523, in Curry County, in reference to a possible threat of suicide, by James Smith. On arrival, Deputies noted James Smith, who had three self inflicted knife wounds to his abdomen. A note to his wife was found on the dining room table. Clovis Fire Department Ambulance responded to the scene and James Smith was subsequently transported to Plains Regional Medical Center. James Smith was stabilized and flown to Lubbock Covenant Hospital. According to medical personnel at the hospital, none of the self inflicted wounds was life threatening.

An interview was conducted with Angie Smith. Angie advised that James called her and told her not to bring the children home, stated that he would be behind the pump house and that he was going to commit suicide. On Deputies arrival, James Smith had been near the pump house. Also during the interview, Angie stated that she and James had been talking earlier in the day and James relayed that he was nervous about a polygraph examination that he was going to take on Wednesday. James also relayed that there was circumstantial evidence linking him to the murder of Laura McNaughton and that he thought Police were trying to pin the crime on him. This was also discussed by Angie and him. At the end of the conversation, James appeared calm, according to Angie Smith. Based on information available to Law Enforcement, James Smith had never tried to hurt himself before.

Based on my experience, James Smith’s actions are not consistent with the actions of the average person, when they have been charged with heinous crimes. James Smith’s actions, following the confrontation with Law Enforcement and the discussion he had with his wife Angie, are more consistent with actions of a person, who, based on my experience, feels remorse for some activity that they had been a party to. Also, based on his medical background, James Smith would have the knowledge necessary to know exactly where to stab or cut himself. James Smith would also have access to medications not commonly afforded the average citizen, because of the dental practice. To my knowledge, no significant information regarding this case had been relayed to the press, so I believe that any motive for hurting oneself, because it may jeopardize their standing in the community or embarrass their family is moot. Because of this, I generated a search warrant for the residence at 464 State Road 523, in Curry County, New Mexico, which may assist in the prosecution of this case.

Once this search warrant was executed, Officers recovered items from within the residence. During this search, Detective Farkas reviewed the calls received and sent on the cordless telephone within the residence. The phone had the capability of storing large numbers of numbers and messages. On the phone, Detective Farkas relayed that the phone had 37 messages stored on it. The numbers received and called from the phone for Friday 120905 through morning of 121005, had been erased from the phone. Phone calls and numbers for days prior to this and post this, were still stored on the phone. This causes me to believe that the numbers stored on the phone for this time period were deliberately erased. Later that night, at the Police Department, I was advised by Deputy Loomis, that during their initial interview with James Smith, he had relayed to Smith that Law Enforcement would be checking his phone records. The notes left by James Smith, to his family were recovered. On the note to his wife, James Smith relayed to his wife, that he did not kill that “woman”, and that the only thing he was guilty of was “flirting”. In the section of the note where he relayed that he didn’t kill the “woman”, James Smith ended the sentence with a period, followed by an exclamation mark. Based on my experience, from reading writings from other persons, it is not typical to end a sentence where a person is trying to be decisive and adamant, with a period. The exclamation point seemed as if placed on the paper as an afterthought.

Other items noted during the search was that the Sunday Clovis News Journal paper, 121105, had been placed complete, and appeared unopened and unread, into the trash. Later in the evening of 121305, Detective Sgt. Aguilar spoke to James Smith at the hospital. During this conversation, Detective Aguilar asked Smith why he had thrown the paper away without reading it. James Smith stated that he had just thrown it away. Smith did state, according to Sgt. Aguilar, that he did glance at the article in the paper about a dead female, and that he, Smith, thought that the article was about “Laura”, Laura McNaughton. This newspaper is the first paper that announced that a female body had been found in the county, dead.
On 121405, search warrants were generated for the dental offices used by James Smith. James Smith practices dentistry at La Casa de Buena Salud. La Casa de Buena Salud has offices in Clovis, New Mexico, and Portales, New Mexico. On 121505, the search warrants were served at both locations. On the warrants, Officers searched for electronic media, computers, writings and other items.

Officers who executed the search warrant at La Casa de Buena Salud, Portales offices, seized multiple items. Of these items, Officers seized a poster of Hillary Duff, an actress. The poster had been physically altered with a black marker. The right eyebrow, nose and bellybutton of Duff had the addition of piercing, drawn onto them. The piercing to eyebrow was a bolt, the nose was a stud, and the bellybutton was a hoop. Other drawings had been made onto the poster including the lips being shaded black, and tattoos placed upon the chest of the Duff on the poster. The piercing on the eyebrows, a bolt, the nose (a stud), and the bellybutton (a hoop), is consistent with piercing worn by Laura McNaughton.

In this same office, Officers seized a laptop computer, and a lockable box. The top of the lockable box had a post-it type note, taped to its top. The note read, “In the case of my demise, give to my wife”. The post-it note was of a type used by the practice, having an advertisement of a medication on its face. The handwriting on the post-it note was similar, based on my layman visual comparison, to the note left by James Smith just prior to his suicide attempt. This item will be sent to lab for comparison. I believe that the note, “In case of my demise”, was written after James Smith determined he was going to attempt suicide.

Within the box was a CD/DVD (Compact Discs/Digital Video Discs) holder, which could hold a large amount of loose DVD or CD’s. Within the case were DVD’s with some titles named Pretty Dead Girl, Westward Ho’s, Terminated Traitors, True Detective, and Living Doll. An internet search was done on Pretty Dead Girl, and on a site, www.nofreelist.com, the movie was described as “a short musical about a guy named Mortie (Christian Campbell) working at a morgue who has an unhealthy obsession with all the pretty dead girls that come through the place”. The majority of the DVD’s were productions of a company called RueMorgue. An internet search was conducted on RueMorgue, www.ruemorgue.com. For the movie True Detective, the site states the following about the movie, “A beautiful young model is hired for an “out-of-the-ordinary” photo shoot, where real crimes are “re-enacted”. The photographer puts the lovely model through the paces in scenes of strangling, shooting, stabbing and hanging — until he goes well beyond re-enactment. He’s left with a gorgeous naked corpse to pose as he wishes. When he’s finished, he tosses the girl’s limp body into a trash can and deposits her into an anonymous dumpster.” The movies were quickly reviewed. The movies depicted strangulation of females, homicide of females, sexual acts with dead females (necrophilia), and morgue scenes where a character cleans and checks body for evidence. Other photos on the website showed posing of dead bodies.

Initial information received from the Office of the Medical Investigator revealed information that Laura McNaughton had been strangled, and ruled this as the cause of death. This is consistent with a common theme of homicide shown by the videos that had been seized. Laura McNaughton’s body was found naked, on County Road C having been laid in a culvert. On the website for RueMorgue, there is a section on body posing. One of the photos in this section is showing a naked female body, laid in a culvert.

On 121405, evidence recovered during the course of searches conducted by the Major Crimes Unit, were relayed to the Northern Lab. The blood evidence seized from James Smith’s truck was part of the evidence relayed to the lab. Blood seized from the body of Laura McNaughton, by the Office of the Medical Investigator was used as a comparison to the blood sample seized from James Smith’s truck, from its right rear running board. According to New Mexico Crime Lab forensic scientist, the DNA, (Deoxyribonucleic acid), generated a profile from the blood spot collected from James Smith’s vehicle’s right rear running board, and the profile is consistent with the genetic profile of Laura McNaughton’s blood profile which was collected during the autopsy.

Based on this I believe that James Smith, committed homicide on the person of Laura McNaughton.