'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened': What notable cases did late detective Lou Smit work on?

Smit was a police detective in Colorado Springs and was noted for working on numerous notable cases, including arresting the killer of actor Kelsey Grammer's sister

                            'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened': What notable cases did late detective Lou Smit work on?
Lou Smit on 'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened' (Discovery)

Warning: This content contains descriptions of violence

One of the most chilling murders of the 20th century is perhaps the death of the six-year-old beauty pageant star in 1996, JonBenet Ramsey, who was first reported missing by her parents, John and Patsy Ramsey. The little girl was then found dead in the family's basement. Many details have since emerged but to date, a killer has not been found for the murder. While there have been many suspects in the case, including a teacher who falsely confessed to the crime, JonBenet Ramsey's murder remains unsolved. The murder and the subsequent investigation by late detective Lou Smit is the subject of the latest documentary from Discovery+, 'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened'.

Because JonBenet's body was found in the Ramsey household itself just hours after being reported missing, her parents were prime suspects in the case and were vilified across the media, with Patsy being called a "pageant mom" and the Ramseys being accused of abusing JonBenet. Smit, however, did not believe that to be the case and thought it was unlikely that her parents would be involved in the murder. He worked tirelessly examining all the evidence, even at the contaminated scene to disprove Colorado police's theory that the parents had something to do with the murder. Eventually, the Ramseys were cleared of the charges, but Smit continued to work on the murder investigation until his death in 2010.

Who is Lou Smit?

Andrew Louis "Lou" Smit was a police detective in Colorado Springs and was noted for working on numerous notable cases. According to The New York Times, when he first applied for the Colorado Springs Police Department, he was rejected because he fell short of the height requirement of five feet and nine inches. However, his cousin hit him over the skull with a nightstick, allowing him to meet the height requirements when measured the following day with a bump on his head.

He retired from the police in 1996 from the El Paso County, Colorado Sheriff's department where he had served as captain of detectives, the same year that JonBenet Ramsey was murdered, and was asked by the district attorney's office to come out of retirement to assist with the investigation. Smit's investigation of the Ramsey household led him to come up with the theory that an intruder got in and even proved that it was possible by demonstrating going into the basement from the outside window. His actions were criticized by the police who instead believed that Patsy was responsible for the murder.

Smit often claimed that he "never lost a homicide case" in a career in which he worked on more than 200 murder cases, according to The New York Times, but he was never able to solve the case of JonBenet's murder before his death. He died in August 2010 of colon cancer and is survived by three daughters, a son, and nine grandchildren.

What cases did Lou Smit work on?

Smit was already a well-known figure as a police detective before he worked on JonBenet's murder investigation. As he worked his way up through the ranks to detective in the Colorado Springs Police Department, Smit had numerous notable cases in his roster.

He worked on the case for the conviction of the spree killer (one who kills two or more victims in a short period of time) and rapist, Freddie Glenn for a series of murders. Glenn was found guilty of murdering three people in 1975 and along with his accomplice, Michael Corbett, the pair was responsible for a total of five deaths in and around Colorado Springs. One of Glenn's victims was Karen Grammer, the sister of actor Kelsey Grammer. Karen was 18 years old and working at a Red Lobster when Glenn, Corbett, and two other men decided to rob it. They kidnapped Karen, worrying that she would identify them later. The men raped her before stabbing her in the throat, back and hand, and left her to die.

One year before JonBenet's death, Smit arrested Robert Charles Browne, who had kidnapped and murdered Heather Dawn Church. Like in the JonBenet case, Church's father was one of the original suspects in her murder. Browne was arrested in March 1995, and though he first denied the charge, he later confessed to killing Church as well as 47 others. Only seven victims have been confirmed as being killed by Browne.

'JonBenet Ramsey: What Really Happened' will premiere on Discovery+ on Monday, January 4, 2021, at 12 am PST.

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