NEWBERRY — Mandy Lenore Smith was sentenced Monday to 50 years in prison by the Judge R. Knox McMahon in Laurens for the murder and desecration of human remains following a week-long trial in Newberry.
The jury deliberated for five hours, starting Friday and ending around 1 a.m. Oct. 12.
John Henry Mayers of Chapin was reported missing by his family on May 11, 2011. Smith and a friend, Timothy Carroll Wise, became persons of interest during the three-week search for Mayers and were questioned.
Smith, 35, fled the area between May 20 and May 25, 2011, and was tracked down by law enforcement at her mother’s house in the Greenville area. Wise voluntarily took Newberry County investigators to Mayers’ body on May 25, 2011, deep in the Sumter National Forest, close to the gravel turnaround at Judy B Road in the Whitmire area.
An autopsy revealed that Mayers died from two gunshot wounds to the chest. Wise told investigators that Mandy Smith was the shooter. Smith initially confessed to shooting Mayers, claiming she did so to protect herself, and corroborated that Wise was present during the shooting.
Sometime later Smith recanted her confession, claiming Wise committed the shooting and that she did not have any foreknowledge of Wise’s plan to kill Mayers.
Both Smith and Wise admitted going back to the scene of the crime on May 18, 2011, and removing the victim’s head, placing it in a five-gallon bucket, and throwing it into the Enoree River. Members of the Newberry County Water Rescue and Dive Squad recovered the dismembered remains from the river on May 26, 2011.
Eighth Circuit Solicitor David M. Stumbo and Deputy Solicitor Dale Scott argued the case for the state. The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office and Lexington County Sheriff’s Office handled the investigation.
“Sheriff (Lee) Foster’s guys conducted a phenomenal investigation, with particular credit going to Captain Robert Dennis, Major Wesley Boland, and investigators from down in Lexington County who worked in conjunction with Newberry to solve this murder,” Stumbo said. “It was a pleasure working as a team with this fine group of public servants to secure a conviction in such a horrific case. Hopefully we were able to obtain some measure of justice and closure for Mr. Mayers’ family.”