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Kidnap and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia by Joseph Smith examined on See No Evil

Mugshot of Joseph Smith
Joseph P. Smith was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of 11-year-old Carlie Brucia. Pic credit: Florida Dept. of Corrections

See No Evil is in Sarasota, Florida, to investigate the case of schoolgirl Carlie Brucia, who was abducted and raped by Joseph Smith after a tragic chance encounter on the street.

On February 1, 2004, 11-year-old Carlie left her friend’s home to walk home. She did not have permission to walk alone, and when her mother learned she was by herself, she sent the girl’s stepfather to look for her.

Unfortunately, Carlie’s parent’s nightmares were realized when the girl seemed to vanish without a trace. A call to 911 initiated a massive search for the lost child.

The cops brought in a bloodhound in an attempt to track Carlie; the dog quickly picked up her scent and followed it to a nearby car wash, where suddenly, it was gone. The police quickly sealed off the car wash and declared it a crime scene.

The car wash’s proprietor had installed motion sensor cameras at his business, and he suggested the officers review the footage. They were shocked when the video showed a man in a mechanic’s uniform seize Carlie and drag her away.

The police broadcast the footage across the media, hoping that a member of the public would recognize the kidnapper.

They were in luck; a former business associate of Joseph Smith recognized the killer and informed the police. He even had a current address for the thug.

The police interviewed Smith at his home, they found several mechanic uniforms and evidence of drug abuse, but nothing to connect him specifically with Carlie’s kidnapping. He was placed in custody but refused to reveal any info about the girl’s disappearance.

The cops spoke with the couple who owned the house, which they shared with Smith. Unfortunately, they gave conflicting statements about Smith’s presence at the house at the time of the kidnap.

Joseph Smith confessed to his brother

At this point, the FBI had gotten involved and contacted Smith’s brother, John Smith. John visited his brother in custody, and unbeknown to the officers, Smith confessed to John and told him where he had dumped Carlie’s body.

John left the police station, and without informing officers, he attempted to find Carlie’s body himself. After failing to locate her remains, he telephoned his brother, who gave him a more detailed description of her whereabouts.

At this point, John finally telephoned the FBI to explain what his brother had told him.

Carlie was discovered lying in a field behind a church. She was naked from the waist down apart from one sock. She had been raped and strangled to death.

In March 2006, Joseph Smith was convicted of kidnap and murder and was sentenced to die by lethal injection.

He already had a criminal record for various drug and fraud offenses and had been on probation when he committed this heinous act. At his sentencing, he tearfully begged for mercy and blamed his actions on heroin and cocaine use.

In 2018, Smith’s sentence was commuted to life after the Supreme Court ruled that Florida could not use the death penalty in cases where the jury’s decision was not unanimous.

However, in April 2020, Florida’s Supreme Court reinstated his death sentence, and Smith was sent back to death row.

More from See No Evil

Follow the links to read about other murder cases where surveillance footage played a key role in solving the case.

Crispin Harmel followed Jessika Kalaher out of a Walmart in Cedar Park, Texas, and attacked her at her car. He raped and choked her and left her for dead in a car park. She tragically succumbed to her injuries a few hours later.

Carleous Clay twice broke into the home of his neighbor Diane Pranske to steal her belongings. When she returned home, he abducted and raped her before setting her on fire and leaving her for dead.

See No Evil airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.

Jerry Brown


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