Wife of Marine in Texas slayings found dead in NC

Associated Press

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — A Marine killed after going on a shooting spree that left one person dead and several hospitalized in Texas also is suspected of fatally stabbing his wife, whose body was found in a North Carolina motel room hours after the rampage, police said Tuesday.

Rubi Estefania Smith of Bakersfield, Calif., was found dead Sunday afternoon in a motel room near Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, N.C., police said in a news release. She was the wife of Lance Cpl. Esteban J. Smith, a 23-year-old Marine who died Sunday in a gunfight with Texas authorities.

Police spokeswoman Beth Purcell said Rubi Estefania Smith appears to have died from a knife wound.

A veteran of two combat tours in Afghanistan, Esteban Smith is suspected in a West Texas shooting rampage that left one woman dead and five others wounded. Authorities have said the victims were likely randomly targeted but have not said why Smith made the 1,500-mile trip to the town of Eden or where he may have been going.

An assault rifle, handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were recovered from Smith's vehicle.

A West Texas sheriff wounded by the shooter told The Associated Press the shootings appeared to be indiscriminate.

"This guy was intent on killing anybody and everybody," said Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane, who was shot near his left ear. "None of it makes sense."

Doane said he is uncertain whether Smith killed himself or was killed by law enforcement.

Smith, who was also from Bakersfield, was stationed with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune. Base spokesman Master Sgt. Jonathan Cress said investigators have determined the firearms used in the shootings were not issued by the military.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Maureen Krebs said Smith enlisted in November 2008. He returned from his second tour as an infantry rifleman in Afghanistan in November 2012. He was awarded several decorations, including a Combat Action Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Krebs said.

The Texas shootings began about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, when the gunman shot a passenger in a car carrying three people in their 20's in the Eden area of Concho County, about 210 miles southwest of Dallas, Doane said

Doane said Smith pulled up behind the trio's car and started firing at them.

"They thought he was throwing rocks at them and he was actually shooting at them," Doane said.

The driver slammed on his brakes, turned around and headed toward Eden where he hid the vehicle in a car dealership lot. That move probably saved their lives, Doane said.

Over the next 90 minutes, two more people were shot while sitting in a car at a convenience store in adjacent McCulloch County. Both were treated and released from a hospital, Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said.

Shortly after 6 a.m., Alicia Torres, 41, was found dead in her car in Eola, just east of San Angelo, Vinger said.

Doane said when authorities discovered the shooter was headed toward Eden again they had to act quickly.

"We made a decision we can't let him back to town," he said.

The suspect fired on the Doane's vehicle when the sheriff came upon him north of Eden, according to DPS.

Doane's wound was non-life-threatening wounds and he was released from a San Angelo hospital early Tuesday, Shannon Medical Center spokeswoman Suzi Reynolds said.

Rubi Smith's remains were found about 2 p.m. Sunday at the Sunset Inn, a motel advertising low rates and Jacuzzi tubs near the gates of the sprawling Marine base on the North Carolina coast. Purcell said Jacksonville police were called to the scene by authorities with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who discovered the body.

Injured in the shooting spree were Laura Mandanas, 26, of New York; Casimiro Solis, 48, and Charlotte Feldman, 43, both of Brady, Texas; and Eric Kothmann, 52, of Menard, Texas. All were treated at hospitals and released, Vinger said.

Without stops, it is more than a 22-hour drive from Jacksonville, N.C. to Eden, Texas.

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Biesecker reported from Raleigh, N.C.

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