An Idaho grandmother has been ordered held on an $800,000 bond after the body of her 8-year-old granddaughter was found in a trash bag in the floorboard of her son’s black Lexus last week, but the initial first degree murder charge she faced was changed before the arraignment.
Connie Smith, 54, now faces charges of felony failure to notify a death and felony destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence in the death of Taryn Summers, although a prosecutor said that more charges are expected.
Smith was arrested on April 15, the same day the body was found, as CrimeOnline previously reported. Investigators have not released the name of the victim, but the sheriff’s office told KTVB they believe it to be Summers, and court documents refer to the victim by the initials T.S.
Investigators have not released a cause of death.
A probable cause affidavit filed with the court said that Smith reported Summers missing on April 12, saying she had run away, and Gem County Sheriff’s deputies began investigating the case. By the following day, deputies had learned that the girl’s two older siblings — 16-year-old Tristan Conner Sexton and 14-year-old Taylor Summers — had both run away from the same home last fall, Tristan in September and Taylor in October. Investigators began looking for the two teens as well.
The affidavit says that detectives inquired about a missing section of carpet in the girl’s bedroom, and Smith told them Taryn had defecated on the carpet, so she cut the section out and burned it.
A mountain search and rescue team searched the property on April 14 but found nothing. The following day, state forensic crews came to the property and found a small spot of blood on Taryn’s bedroom wall, the affidavit says. A second search of the property found the body in a black plastic trash bag, on the floor of the vehicle vehicle. Vomit was smeared on her shirt and hair.
The vehicle is registered to Smith’s son, but the affidavit says that Smith was seen driving it on April 12, the day she reported Taryn missing.
Smith was arrested, and Gem County authorities said that they had spoken with the missing 14-year-old girl and that the family had been in contact with the teen boy. Neither had any contact with Taryn, authorities said, and were not in any danger.
Although prosecutors dropped the original first degree murder charge against Smith, Gem County Prosecuting Attorney Erick Thomson asked the court for a $1 million bail, East Idaho News reported.
“The state is waiting for the conclusion of the investigation before making a final determination of any charges. It would be my current belief that additional charges for Ms. Smith will be coming,” Thomson said. “Based on the charges themselves, you can see the unwillingness to report and unwillingness to comply with any orders of the court.”
Smith’s attorney, Joshua Taylor, argued that Smith has long ties to the community and was not a flight risk.
She was given the opportunity to deliver herself to law enforcement, which she did peacefully, so that tells us she would show up (to future court dates),” Taylor said. “She’s not a person of substantial means, so any time of monetary bond would be significantly difficult for her to obtain.”
Judge Tyler Smith set the bail at $800,000 and said that she would be required to wear a GPS monitor and remain in a certain area if she posts bail. Additionally, she must surrender her passport and is barred from having contact with children under 18.
“In reviewing the probable cause affidavit, the alleged conduct is disturbing: the report that the child was missing (and) ultimately the discovery of the deceased child on the property, I believe two days later,” Smith said. “The potential penalty, depending on the conclusion of the investigation, could be severe. That’s the type of thing the court gets concerned about when someone starts weighing whether or not they’re going to appear in court.”
Smith is due in court again on May 3.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Listen to the latest episode:
[Featured image: Taryn Summers/Gem County Sheriff’s Office; Connie Ann Smith/Ada County jail]