“Demonic” teen pleads guilty to grandparents’ murder

Kyle Smith is serving life plus 10 years for the murder of his grandparents. Two friends are on 10 years’ probation for helping him set fire to their house.

Of all the posts on Backward Messages, by far the most popular is the one about Oklahoma’s Kyle Smith: “Demonic drawing,” Slipknot album linked to grandparents’ murder. Much has happened since then, so I wanted to provide a brief update.

In August, Smith pleaded guilty to charges that he murdered his grandparents, David and Rose Garrick, before setting their house on fire to destroy the evidence. Did he claim that the “demonic drawing,” or the Slipknot album, had anything to do with his actions?

He didn’t.

During his hearing, he told the court that he has been on medication for bipolar disorder since he was jailed for the crimes. At last word, he was being evaluated for mental health placement.

To be fair, the vast majority of people with bipolar disorder are not violent and do not kill people. It’s tough to say whether Smith’s illness contributed to his crimes. But that’s more likely to be a factor than his taste in music or his doodling — particularly if he was severely ill and unmedicated.

Earlier this month, two of Smith’s friends, Dustin Martin and Jacob LeBlanc, were sentenced to 10 years probation for helping Smith set fire to his grandparents’ house.

If you’re a friend of Smith’s, Martin’s or LeBlanc’s, please comment and let us know how you — and they — are doing.

If you’re close with a bipolar teen, can you provide any tips on helping these kids cope with their illness in a healthy, positive way?


5 responses to ““Demonic” teen pleads guilty to grandparents’ murder

  1. Some of my closest friends are bipolar. They’re not teens any more, but their lessons are useful for everybody.

    The first lesson is that you should never, ever, ever rely on “diagnosis” meaning “I can’t change it”. You can, even if you’re medicated. Your misery (when you’re down) can impact on others to the point that they want to help you, and they can’t if you won’t help yourself.

    The second lesson is fresh food, exercise, NO POT, limit your booze. My mates used to smoke heaps of weed and it just made them worse. Walk every day. Walk when you’re starting to feel downward-spiralling, especially. Trust me, it helps.

    The third lesson is remember that there are tens of thousands of people with bipolar; you can’t cast yourself as a victim because other people find it boring. Sorry to be blunt, but it’s true. Victimising yourself causes you to lose friends, and fast.

    The fourth lesson is keep a vision board, keep yourself goal-oriented. One of my very best friends kicked his meds himself, through changing his lifestyle. That alone is a good lesson to learn.

    • This is such a great comment — thanks so much. I don’t even mean to imply that bipolar disorder on its own would make someone kill, only that when you’re looking at the motivation behind a violent crime, a history of mental illness is a more plausible precipitating factor than an interest in Slipknot. That said, a bipolar diagnosis is not a death sentence or a scarlet letter. It can be lived with, managed, even danced with. You’ve said it well.

  2. I know KS, but more importantly I knew the victims, his grandparents. He is using bipolar as an excuse. He was deemed mentally fit enough to be tried, and he plead guilty. I know metal disorder is real, but it’s not an excuse. Rose and Dave were some of the best people I’ve ever known.

  3. i actually went to school with jacob leblanc when he lived in st louis. i never knew he was like this.

  4. Leblanc as a student seemed antisocial. Enter martin and Kyle and drugs. Now Leblanc has friends and made some really horrific decisions to follow the wrong people.
    Its hard to see your students go down the wrong path and affect the rest of their lives.

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