SARASOTA — Serial home invasion and rape suspect Delmer Smith III has been extradited to the Sarasota County jail to face charges in four home invasions in which women were beaten and two raped.
Smith, 38, had been in the Pinellas County jail for weeks after federal authorities charged him with violating his probation on a bank robbery conviction. He was booked into the Sarasota jail just after 6 a.m. Friday.
Sarasota authorities charged him Oct. 5 with four Sarasota home invasions where detectives say he left his DNA, but waited to bring him to Sarasota until federal authorities resolved his probation violation charge. He has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for the violation.
“We are ready to go forward. Our charges are all filed and we are ready to go,” said Sarasota Assistant State Attorney Earl Varn.
Never miss a local story.
Smith will now face several charges of armed home invasion, false imprisonment and rape in Sarasota. He is also a suspect in as many as seven similar attacks in Manatee and Sarasota counties, including the beating death of a woman in her Sarasota home.
Manatee sheriff’s investigators also have not ruled him out as a suspect in the killing of Kathleen Briles in her Terra Ceia home, a case in which a $50,000 reward for information from the public is being offered.
Law enforcement officials are anxious to begin proceedings against Smith.
“It’s time for this ruthless predator to face these charges,” said Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight. “The community is ready to move forward.”
Smith’s arrest sparked controversy after the FBI revealed the agency had his DNA throughout the home invasion attacks, but had not entered it into federal DNA databases because of a backlog in the entries of federal inmates’ DNA.
When Sarasota detectives submitted DNA from the home invasion crimes scene, they did not initially get a hit because the DNA had not been entered. It was not until Smith was arrested after a bar fight that investigators searched his possessions and found property taken during the home invasions.
After the property was found, the FBI entered Smith’s DNA — taken in March 2008 while he was still in federal prison on a bank robbery conviction — and it matched the DNA found in the four Sarasota homes. The property has been sent for forensic processing, according to Sarasota Sheriff’s spokeswoman Wendy Rose.
The controversy over the DNA backlog led U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan to meet with FBI officials about eliminating the backlog, which FBI officials pledged to accomplish within a year.
FBI officials also called on Buchanan to petition the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to begin taking DNA samples from offenders at the beginning of their sentences, giving the FBI more time for entry before they get out. In Smith’s case, he went to federal prison in 1995, and his DNA was not taken by prison officials until just months before his release.
The congressman has sought a meeting with prison officials, but it has not yet been scheduled, Buchanan’s spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts said.
Robert Napper, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024.