Vincent Smothers’ life was that of a made-for-TV hitman. He lived in a townhouse in suburban Detroit with his wife and baby daughter. He was the polite neighbor often seen walking his poodle. What people didn’t know is that he was also a prolific killer…
Detroit police Sergeant David Cobb was accused of hiring Smothers to kill his wife. But he hanged himself in a park before the investigation concluded.
His specialty was being hired as a tool of revenge in Detroit’s drug trade. His first hit came in August of 2006. Smothers was hired to take out brothers Adrian and Carl Thornton, who were thought to have ripped off a fellow dealer.
Smothers ambushed them at their home, shooting Adrian in the head, chest and leg. Carl was shot in the head as well, but survived.
Yet Smothers was a craftsman. He wasn’t about to let a target get away. He returned to the home the following January, waiting to ambush Carl Thornton again, hiding in an abandoned house. This time he took care of his mark, also shooting a 22-year-old woman who accompanied Thornton in the butt.
Only a few months later he would take out Marshall White Jr., 56, and Johnny Marshall, 64, who were thought to be informants. They were found shot to death on a freeway service road, White in the head and Marshall in the face.
By June of 2007, he was at it again. Smothers and an accomplice, Lakari Berry, stormed into a Detroit home and demanded to know where the money was. But there was only two women and two children in the house.
They ransacked the house and then tied the women up in a back room. Then they told Gaudrielle Webster to call her boyfriend, Clarence Cherry, and lure him to the home.
When Cherry arrived, the two men shot him 20 times, before turning their guns on Webster and her friend, 18-year-old Karsia Rice. Cherry and Webster both died at the scene. Rice would survive a gunshot wound to the head that left her blind in one eye.
Berry was later convicted of the killing after a witness got his license plate number. But he never ratted out Smothers, who would go on to kill again.
The murder that did him in involved Detroit Police Sergeant David Cobb, or so Smothers claimed in his confession.
Cobb was having an affair; he also wanted a payoff from his wife’s insurance policy. So the hit was set up through Marzell Black, the 20-year-old son of Cobb’s mistress. Cobb would pay Black and Smothers $10,000 — to be split equally — to take out his wife Rose Cobb.
She was ambushed as she got into her minivan outside a pharmacy while her husband remained inside the store. Smothers approached her and tried to make it look like a robbery by grabbing her purse. But Rose jumped into the backseat, and Smothers opened fire, shooting her multiple times in the head.
According to Smothers, Cobb tried to stiff him on the $10,000 payment. He initially forked over just $50, saying he would pay the rest later to avoid suspicion. In the meantime, Smothers had grown tired of killing.
He was eventually ratted out by an informant, and it wasn’t long before he confessed to being a serial killer. He told police the killing hadn’t bothered him when the targets were drug dealers. But something got to him with the murder of a police sergeant’s wife.
Upon Smothers’ confession, Cobb was suspended by the Detroit PD during an investigation. But instead of facing the possibility of prison, Cobb took a quicker route to mercy. He decided to hang himself in a park in 2008.
Last week, Smothers was finally sentenced for his murder spree that ran from 2006 to 2008. As part of a plea bargain, he was sentenced to 50-100 years in prison.
See our last story about hired hits: White Supremacist Lawyer Hires Hitman to Bomb Wife, Mother-in-Law.