Man charged in gruesome ax murder
Updated 11:56 pm, Wednesday, January 25, 2012
BRIDGEPORT -- The day before police said Tyree Lincoln Smith hacked to death a homeless man in an East Side apartment and then cannibalized the body, he told his cousin he had a "lust for blood."
"He said he had gotten a rare steak at a restaurant in Florida and when he had tasted the blood it had given him a sexual sensation," recalled Nicole Rabb, who helped police get a confession from Smith to the crime.
Police said Smith killed 43-year-old Angel "Tun Tun" Gonzalez with an ax on Dec. 15.
On Tuesday night the 35-year-old Smith, who grew up in Ansonia, was arrested at a friend's home in Lynn Haven, Fla., and charged with murder in Gonzalez's death. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bond pending extradition to Connecticut.
Rabb, who grew up with Smith, has been acknowledged by police as their main witness against her cousin.
In an interview with the Connecticut Post, she lamented that she didn't act immediately to stop her cousin hours before the death of Gonzalez after he told her he was going to kill someone. But she explained at the time she didn't think what he was threatening was anything but crazy rantings she was used to hearing from him.
"Who the hell would think you could be related to someone like this," she said. "I mean, I've heard of Hannibal Lecter, but I never thought I could have someone in my family who would actually eat someone."
Rabb said she blames police for not acting faster after she said family members informed them Smith had confessed to killing someone in the Brooks Street apartment. "Police told his (Smith's) mother they just couldn't go into the Brooks Street apartment building to look for a body," she related.
Police didn't immediately return calls for comment on Rabb's assertions.
More InformationEditor's note: Some details of this story may be disturbing to readers.
Gonzalez's body was found Friday in a vacant third-floor apartment on Brooks Street. Police said he was found lying across a mattress fully clothed with severe facial and head injuries.
An autopsy determined Gonzalez died from blunt head trauma.
After graduating from Ansonia High School, where he played football, in the early 1990s, Smith moved to California, where he got into modeling, Rabb said. She said his photograph was featured on several billboard advertisements. Prior to that, she said her cousin had been treated for psychiatric problems.
"He said he was hearing voices," Rabb said. "One time, the voices told him to get out of bed in the middle of a snowstorm and walk barefoot across town. He spent several months in a hospital."
While other family members kept their distance from Smith, Rabb said she remained close. "We had grown up like brother and sister," she said.
On Dec. 15, Rabb said Smith showed up at her Seaview Avenue apartment, carrying a large book bag and appearing out of sorts. She said he was drinking from a bottle of sake and showed her a small ax that he pulled out of the bag.
"He was talking about a book he was writing that was all about murder and rape and about Greek gods," she continued. She said she became concerned when Smith began talking about needing blood and being on a mission to get blood. She said he told her he was going to Beardsley Park and later intended to camp out on the porch of their old home on Brooks Street, where Gonzalez's body was later found.
But later that night Smith was back, banging on her apartment door complaining that he had blood all over him. She said she refused to let him in and he eventually went away.
He returned the next evening. Rabb said this time she let him, in only to see that Smith had blood all over his jeans. There was also blood on the small ax he was carrying.
She said he took a bath in her apartment and then stuffed his bloody clothing into a plastic bag. Then, sitting down at the dinner table with Rabb and her two young sons, she said he announced, "I got my blood."
Rabb said Smith related how he had gone to Beardsley Park looking for victims but didn't find anyone there. "He complained that Bridgeport wasn't the same city anymore, where people went to the park at night," she said.
But Smith had gone to the Brooks Street house, where a kindly Gonzalez, concerned that Smith would suffer from the cold if he slept outside, invited him to share the vacant apartment where Gonzalez was squatting.
"A voice told him, `this is your blood,' " Rabb said Smith later told her.
She said he then told her he then ate pieces of Gonzalez's brain and an eyeball as he stood over Rabb's brother's grave at Lakeview Cemetery, washing it down with the sake.
"He said the rush he got from doing that was something he had never experienced before," she said.
Rabb said she kicked her cousin out of her apartment and called his mother and told her what Smith had said. Meanwhile, the book bag with the bloody ax remained in her apartment. When she looked in the bag, she saw it also contained a roll of duct tape, a rope and a list of names, including those of Smith's mother, father and sister.
Rabb said she eventually gave the bag back to Smith in an effort to keep him away.
After news broke that Gonzalez's body had been found, Rabb said she went to police and told them what Smith had related to her. She said police then had her call Smith, who by that time was back in Florida, and try to get him to confess to Gonzalez's death.
In the phone call, which Rabb said was recorded by police, she said Smith confessed to the murder but then became concerned that she was talking to police and tried to retract his confession.
Smith has prior misdemeanor convictions in Connecticut, but has never served prison time here. In 2004, he pleaded guilty to interfering with an officer and second-degree breach of peace in New Haven. In 2005, he was convicted of interfering with an officer.
Bridgeport Police Capt. James Viadero said it appears that Smith has only a minimal criminal record around the country. He said at this point they have no information that he was treated for mental illness.
"At this point it is still very much an open investigation," he added.
On Wednesday, Odalys Vazquez greeted the news that a suspect was under arrest for her stepfather's slaying somberly.
"All I want now is justice," the 25-year-old Vazquez said. "Here it is that my dad was trying to help this guy, telling him to come inside from the cold. If my father was helping him stay warm, what kind of person is it who does this, who repays him by swinging an ax at him and hitting him so hard it blows his brains out?"