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Joe Earl Smith mugshot

Police: Texas man murders his uncle, leaves to watch NASCAR race in Florida

by Jessica Johnson, Contributor

 After allegedly shooting his uncle on February 22, Joe Earl Smith of Jefferson, Texas, thought it was as good a time as any to catch the NASCAR 500 in Florida.

According to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, the 50-year-old Smith was sleeping in a vehicle near city hall when the local authorities recognized his 1993 Ford Explorer from an alert shared by dispatch the afternoon of February 24th. When police spoke with Smith he told them he was in town “for the races.”

Relatives of Smith and his late uncle, 68-year-old Jack Smith, had alerted authorities that Joe Earl Smith may be in the Daytona Beach area for the NASCAR 500. Both the Volusia County Sheriff’s Department and the Texas Rangers were searching for Smith.

It is unclear whether Smith actually attended any of the races or events at the Daytona Speedway.

Joe Earl Smith reportedly told law enforcement he had shot and killed his uncle in an ongoing dispute over the possible inheritance of land in Marion County, Texas. According to a statement on the Marion County Sheriff’s Facebook page, the victim was found behind one of the houses located on the property, “dead from apparent multiple gunshot wounds.”

The Marion County Sheriff’s office disclosed they had repeatedly been called to the location due to disturbances related to the disagreement over ownership of the property. Family members stated that Jack Smith had recently evicted Joe Earl Smith from one of the houses on the property.

Joe Earl Smith is being held without bail in the Volusia County Jail in Florida until arrangements are made to transport him back to Jefferson, a small town about 170 miles east of Dallas, where he faces murder charges.

[Feature Photo: Volusia County Jail]

Jessica Johnson is a freelance journalist, blogger, and poet whose work has appeared in newspapers, magazines, online publications, and literary journals. Jessica has worked in the fields of education, criminal prosecution, marketing, psychology, and athletics. Jessica grew up in Santa Cruz, California, which was once known as the “Murder Capital of the World.”