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Aaron Smith’s Murder: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?

December 21, 2020
4 min read
Image Credit: Investigation Dicovery/ Twitter

‘Twisted Sisters’, a unique true-crime series from Investigation Discovery features crime cases involving sisters. Executive produced by Khloe Kardashian, the series portrays the complex relationships sisters share through a series of horrific and chilling crimes. While some of the hour-long episodes depict the tale of sisters who worked together to commit the crime, others showcase relationships between sisters that turned bitter and eventually ended in tragic consequences.

An episode from the third season of the series retraces the case of Aaron Smith’s murder in 1997, by his wife and her twin sister. The haunting tale of betrayal and greed has left us seeking precise details about the case. Here’s what we have found.

How Did Aaron Smith Die?

On July 23, 1997, Aaron Smith’s father, Harry Smith, discovered his son’s dead body on the walkway leading up to their residence at the campground Aaron and his wife, Denice operated. Harry had left home at 4:20 p.m. but his son was not home at the time. Later, at 6:00 p.m. when Harry returned, Aaron was already dead. The desperate father rushed into the house to call 911 when he noticed the entire house had been ransacked. Throughout his wait for the authorities to arrive, Harry ensured that the scene and the victim’s body were left untouched. He further observed that the covering from an air vent had been removed, which to him seemed out-of-place since the air vents were where he stored part of his earnings back when had lived in Florida. Aaron and his wife, Denice, were the only ones who knew about this habit of his.

Harry also noticed that his .357 magnum pistol was not in its usual place under a table in the garage. He was additionally missing three watches. A day after Aaron’s death, Harry received a call from Denice Smith inquiring about Aaron. At this point, Harry handed over the phone to Agent Davenport of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), one of the lead investigators of the case. Agent Davenport along with Robert Caldwell, the Chief Detective of the Cocke County Sheriff’s Department, who was also part of the investigating team, requested an autopsy of the victim’s body. Dr. Cleland Blake, who performed the autopsy, found three gunshot wounds on the victim’s body with two to the head and one to the trunk. The gunshot to the head was detected to be the only immediately lethal wound and hence the primary cause of death.

Who Killed Aaron Smith?

Aaron Smith was murdered by his ex-wife Denice Smith and her sister and co-conspirator Deborah Graham. The twin sisters hired Alexandro Rivera, Deborah’s alleged boyfriend, to kill Aaron. Aaron and Denice had been operating a campground called Camprite Access. The married couple resided in a house on the campgrounds. The entrance to the campsite required a key to access it through a gate. In 1995, the couple started experiencing certain issues within their marriage which led to an acrimonious custody battle of their two children, Brittany and Joshua. In the course of their marital problems, Aaron moved in with his parents in their house. He then filed for a divorce and the custody battle ensued.

Aaron had won the custody of his two children, but before he could claim it, Denice fled to Florida with the two children. From a motel, Denice controlled the strings of an operation that would eventually leave her husband dead. She contacted her sister and together they tailored a vicious plan. Accordingly, Deborah and Rivera drove up to the Smith home at the campsite and Rivera broke in to steal various items of jewelry. Rivera later claimed that his goal was to scare Aaron but he accidentally killed him when he came back home unexpectedly.

A description of a suspicious individual provided by a resident at the same campsite in close cohort with the evidence garnered by the State Trooper directed the investigators to Florida and directly to Deborah and Rivera. The twin sisters and Rivera were arrested following which the stolen jewelry was discovered. The sisters were found guilty of first-degree murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.

Read More: Where Are Denice Smith And Deborah Graham Now?

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