Convicted killer of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia dies in prison

Carlie Brucia's kidnapping was caught on surveillance footage.
Carlie Brucia's kidnapping was caught on surveillance footage.(Sarasota County Sheriff's Office via WWSB)
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 11:35 AM CDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB/Gray News) - Joseph Smith, the convicted killer of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia, has died in prison, WWSB reported.

Carlie was found dead after being kidnapped from a car wash in Sarasota near her home Feb. 1, 2004, while returning from a friend’s house. She was reported missing by her parents within half an hour of her abduction.

State Attorney Ed Brodsky announced Smith died on Death Row Monday.

“While nothing can bring back Carlie, we are grateful that her family, her friends, and the entire Sarasota community will finally have closure and will not have to endure any further court proceedings to bring Smith to justice,” Brodsky said in a news release.

The kidnapping case garnered national attention, when surveillance video showed Carlie being grabbed by a man, later identified as Smith. The video prompted a massive manhunt for the abductor.

Six days later, Smith, an auto mechanic with a history of drug arrests, was identified as the main suspect. After interrogation, police found Carlie’s body behind a church.

A year later, Smith was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and capital sexual battery, and he was given the death sentence for murder.

His case resurfaced in May, when the Florida Supreme Court ordered a new sentencing hearing for Smith after Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office acknowledged in a court filing that Smith should be resentenced because the U.S. Supreme Court found Florida’s death-penalty system unconstitutional because it gave too much authority to judges, instead of juries, in imposing death sentences.

Smith was also suspected in the 2000 killing of 25-year-old Tara Reilly, who was found lying dead and naked in a pond behind Walmart on Cortez Road in Bradenton. That case has never been solved.

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