SARASOTA -- Within weeks after he was released from federal prison late last year, Delmer Smith III began violently attacking Sarasota women in a string of home invasions, authorities say. The man police are calling a "monster" may also be responsible for several brutal home invasions this year in Manatee County.
Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube said his detectives will also look for any links between Smith and the Aug. 3 slaying of Kathleen Briles in her Terra Ceia home.
Smith, 38, a Michigan native who moved to Bradenton, is responsible for at least four attacks in Sarasota, Sheriff Tom Knight said Monday in announcing Smith’s arrest. Investigators also suspect Smith in similar crimes in Bradenton and unincorporated Manatee, starting with a Feb. 16 attack on a female jogger who was beaten at gunpoint.
A muti-agency task force has been investigating a string of 11 attacks in Sarasota and Manatee counties that all appeared similar.
Smith, a former federal inmate released in late 2008 on a bank robbery conviction in Michigan, first turned up on law enforcement’s radar in Venice, when the police department began investigating him after a bar fight. He became a suspect in a string of burglaries in the Venice area, and police found a federal warrant accusing him of violating his probation on the 1995 bank robbery conviction. He was arrested Sept. 11.
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