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Man serving five life sentences for killing family dies

Man serving five life sentences for killing family dies

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DES MOINES (AP) - Gayno Gilbert Smith's life prison term has ended. He entered the Iowa State Penitentiary a young man of 25 and left it at 67 after a blood vessel ruptured and sent him to the University Hospitals in Iowa City.

Smith, convicted of the brutal shotgun slaying of five family members and the beating death of his stepmother, died at the hospital from complications of a spontaneous tear in a blood vessel connected to the heart, Iowa Department of Corrections spokesman Fred Scaletta said in a statement.

He narrowly avoided the death penalty, which in 1962 Iowa meant hanging from the gallows of the century-old stone-walled Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison. Instead, was given five consecutive life sentences for first-degree murder and a 50-year sentence for second-degree murder. Smith had been an inmate at the penitentiary since Sept. 13, 1962.

In May 1962 Smith used a shotgun to kill his uncle, Andrew McBeth, 51; his aunt, Dora McBeth, 41; and their children - twins Amos and Anna McBeth, 19, and 17-year-old, Donna Jean Kellogg.

Smith also wounded another McBeth daughter, Patsy Lou, 15, but she escaped to a nearby farmstead.

The family lived about four miles north of Martinsburg in Keokuk County.

Following the slaying, a massive manhunt followed and for three days authorities searched for Smith. He was found in a barn near Lake Wapello.

After Smith was convicted in September 1962 of the murders, he admitted to the October 1961 bludgeoning death of his stepmother, Juanita Smith. Her body was found several months later in a shallow grave near her home.

Smith was given an additional 50-year sentence for second-degree murder.


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