Body in the barrel: Curtis ‘Cochise’ Smith’s murder investigated on Killing Fields

A "Missing" poster for Curtis "Cochise" Smith
A “Missing” poster for Curtis “Cochise” Smith on Discovery’s Killing Fields: The Body in the Barrel. Pic credit: Discovery

Imagine your husband or your father went out to the store for diapers and never returned home.

This is the riveting opener of this week’s Killing Fields, which tells the story of  Curtis “Cochise” Smith — an African American man who disappeared from his small Louisiana town in 1991, with his death later found to have been be a murder.

Back in 2005, the body of a black male was discovered in a barrel off the main road in Natchitoches Parish. Now the case file has been cracked open as detectives and the Killing Fields team piece together old and new evidence.

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In the episode we see detectives Rodie Sanchez, Major Ronald Hebert and Aubrey St. Angelo along with Sheriff Brett Stassi, and detectives Lori Morgan, Jeremy Sanchez, Leslie Bradford and Brett Stassi Jr. of Louisiana’s Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office hash over new evidence in this cold case investigation.

Major Hebert recalls the moment he heard about the man’s body being found in the barrel. He says: “I received a phone call from the sheriff’s office saying they found a black male in a drum, who they seem to think was about 25.

“Possibly [he’s] been in that barrel in the water from between 10 and 30 years — so Rodie would know what I’m talking about when I say ‘black male missing’…Cochise.”

But was the body in the barrel actually his?

Cochise disappeared one evening in 1991 after leaving his home to go and buy some diapers for his seven-month-old son. His body was never found.

Local well-to-do townie Tommy Francise was originally identified as a suspect in his disappearance. But despite an alleged taped confession, there was not enough evidence to charge him.

However, the filming of this week’s Killing Fields episode shed light on new evidence, which led to Francise being arrested in October 2016 over Cochise’s murder as well as over the 2002 murder of George Barrett Jr. He is currently awaiting trial.

Killing Fields airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on Discovery.

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