Mandy Lemaire was just 11 when she was kidnapped in broad daylight before being raped and murdered in Tazlina, Alaska.
Two years later local resident Charles Smithart, whose truck was said to have been spotted near where Mandy’s body was found, was sentenced to 114 years in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder, sexual assault and kidnapping.
His conviction was reportedly helped by globules of iron found on Mandy’s clothing, which are only created in particular conditions like welding — something which Smithart engaged in.
Two blonde hairs matching Mandy’s were also said to have been found in his truck, while matching carpet fibers were reportedly found both on her clothing and in his truck.
However, he and his family always maintained his innocence and in 1999 the Alaska Supreme Court overturned his conviction and ordered a retrial.
It came about after they found his trial defence team had not been given enough leeway to point the finger at another man who was a key witness for the prosecution and was one of the people who said he saw Smithart’s truck near the scene following Mandy’s murder.
Smithart remained in prison after his conviction was overturned but never faced a retrial after he died of lung cancer in December 2000 — which according to Alaskan law meant that the charges against him were dismissed.
Mandy was kidnapped in August 1991 while walking along a road near her home. Her body was discovered ten days later after she’d been shot in the head twice.
The case features in documentary Vanished in Alaska, which airs at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery tonight.