OLEAN — An Olean House resident charged with murdering his wife was released from Olean General Hospital Sunday and is now being held at Cattaraugus County Jail without bail.
Edward J. Smith Jr., 50, of Apt. 331, was charged with second-degree murder, a class A-1 felony; first-degree assault, a class B felony; and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a class A misdemeanor, after Olean police discovered the body of his wife in his apartment Saturday morning.
Smith became ill Saturday at the Olean Police Department station and was taken to OGH by an ambulance, said Olean Police Capt. Robert Blovsky. After being released from the hospital Sunday morning, Smith was brought back to the station, located just several hundred feet from Olean House, for booking procedures.
Olean City Court Judge Daniel Palumbo set no bail for Smith, who was then transferred to Cattaraugus County Jail to await a Tuesday preliminary hearing in Olean City Court. District Attorney Lori Rieman and the Cattaraugus County Public Defender’s Office were present for the arraignment.
Blovsky on Sunday identified the victim as Kathy Smith, Edward Smith’s wife who lived with him at the apartment. Bradley Spink, the Cattaraugus County coroner who pronounced Kathy Smith dead, had identified the victim as Edward Smith’s wife on Saturday.
Olean police responded to Olean House, a federally subsidized housing facility located at 132 N. Union St. for people with low incomes and disabilities, at approximately 6:40 a.m. Saturday after a report of a possible murder in the Smiths’ apartment. Police have not said who made that report.
Officers, who were met at the door of the apartment by Edward Smith, found Kathy Smith dead inside.
Police have confirmed that Kathy Smith was killed with a weapon, but have not released what kind of a weapon. Police currently believe she was killed sometime between midnight Saturday and when officers arrived in the apartment Saturday morning. An autopsy will occur Monday, Spink said.
Olean House residents on Sunday expressed shock at Kathy Smith’s death and Edward Smith’s arrest. They said there was no indication the couple had a troubled or violent relationship, and not they nor any neighbors they spoke with heard anything unusual from the couple’s apartment Friday evening into Saturday morning.
“I cried all day yesterday. I can’t believe it, nobody in here can,” said Pat Willard, 86, who lives on the same floor the Smiths did.
Willard said she considered the couple friends and that Edward Smith would often help her and other neighbors with electronics and any other tasks they needed done around their apartments.
“I can’t think why he would do it because he’s just such a sweet person,” Willard said. “They would do anything for anybody.”
Residents said Edward and Kathy Smith were unable to work, although they believe Edward Smith previously had a job as a security guard. Blovsky said he was unsure if either of them were employed.
Some residents said they saw the couple as recently as Friday talking with neighbors outside Olean House.
“It’s a sad thing it had to come down to that because they were a very, very loving couple,” said Victoria Lovell, 57, who lives a floor above the Smiths’ apartment.
Saturday’s murder charge was at least the second violent felony charge to be filed against an Olean House resident in the last three months. Olean House resident Francis O’Donnell, 62, pleaded not guilty in March to second-degree kidnapping, a class B felony; two counts of first-degree coercion, class D felonies; four counts of first-degree rape, class B felonies; and four counts of first-degree criminal sexual act, class B felonies, after authorities alleged he sexually abused a woman and held her against her will in his apartment for a month.
A call to Olean Housing Authority officials this weekend was not immediately returned.
The last murder to occur in Olean was in August 2010, when James A. Williams was shot to death at his apartment at the corner of Second and West State streets. Martez Terrell Johnson, then 33, pleaded guilty just a month later to first-degree manslaughter, a class B felony.
This story has been updated to reflect new information.
(Contact reporter Tom Dinki at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki)