32-year-old missing persons case shows value of child safety app

A child safety event will feature the release of a new app

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — Gone without a trace. Thirty-two years ago, a Hot Springs teen was walking home from school, when she was never seen or heard from again. It's a story written for the headlines.

In 1985, Bill Clinton's former housekeeper's daughter disappears, seemingly right off the street.
Only it didn't make the headlines.

In a lot of ways, Jeffrey Lynn Smith's case wasn't given the attention it deserved.

Her sister says, with the technology now available, Lynn’s life may have been saved. She wants other families to know about and use the resource.

"We want to know what happened and we want to as well, have justice for her," 32 years later, Lisa Smith said she still gets emotional when discussing her sister Lynn. "Mom called me and said ' she didn't come home last night' and that's when we started getting concerned just immediately."

Smith was last seen at the intersection of Crescent and Silver streets in Hot Springs on Dec. 4, 1985. She was on her way home from school and only blocks from home.

"She was walking home with her boyfriend, Frank Hanna, and a friend, Lisa. My aunt actually saw them walking home and she stopped and asked them if they wanted a ride. They said 'no, we are fine.' We since have communicated with Lisa and Lisa's like 'I left. Parted ways with them, and was headed home. They just kept walking.' But that's the last time anybody's seen her,” Smith said.

Hot Springs Police Department said that over the years witnesses have given inconsistent stories.

"I, myself, am 99.9 percent certain that she was murdered. We want to get her remains. We want to have answers. We hope to, at some point, know what happened, as painful as that might be,” Smith said.

And it has been painful. Over the years, Lynn's case went cold, was reopened, and now has new detectives passionate about finding her killer.

"When the case reopened, it was like a domino effect, so-to-speak. They not only reopened the case but then they put us in touch with the National Center, which opened up all these resourced for us,” Lisa said.

She ended up becoming a part of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as a way to cope.

Friday and Saturday, they and the Hot Springs Police Department will teach parents about Safety Central, an app to safely store children's information.

"It's a situation where you don't really think about it until it's too late. These apps are easy to download. It's easy to upload the information. That way, if god forbid, something does happen, that information is readily available,” Cpl. Kirk Zaner of the Hot Springs Police Department.

He said having the information available digitally also helps law enforcement share information with each other in times of crisis. 

"All the work that is done with this event gives her life meaning to me, because these are all things she wouldn’t be able to do herself, because her life has been taken from her. She was 16 years old. Who knows what wonderful things she could have accomplished,” the grieving sister said as she wiped a tear from her eye.

That event to honor Smith is from 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Hot Springs Mall.

© 2018 KTHV-TV


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