Man charged with murder 6 months after child's death

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office, in conjunction with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, charged Charles Edward Smith with first-degree cruelty to children and felony murder in a case involving his child’s death on January 9.

Smith wasn't arrested until six months after the child died.

"How do you harm your own child?" neighbor Chris Estes asked. "It must have been a long process, either that or he was hiding a lot of the stuff that led up to what actually happened."

Deputies said it was the report from the medical examiner's office that finally led them to make an arrest.

Investigators could not say exactly why it took months to make an arrest or what suddenly caused them to investigate foul play.


"That's crazy considering that we really didn't know anything about it," Estes said.

Chris Estes told Channel 2 Action News he went to school with Smith. He and other neighbors in the Rockmart community said no one suspected a thing until investigators started making return trips to the family home.

Channel 2 Action News learned the Smith family abruptly moved away.

Deputies would not comment on certain details in the case, but those close to the family said the victim was a 5-year-old boy and Smith was his stepfather.

"There were three little kids over there, and he seemed like a normal father figure. He would take the kids and get in the car, and they would leave or play outside and stuff, and you would never think anything of it," Estes said.

The 31-year-old is currently being held at the Paulding County Detention Center with no bond.