Putnam man kills wife, himself

Richard Bernard Smith
Richard Bernard Smith

A Putnam County man killed his wife and then himself early Sunday morning, according to information from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

Richard Bernard Smith, 47, reportedly killed his wife, 43-year-old Barbara Ann Lawrence, before committing suicide by gunshot at the family’s home on Dennis Station Road south of Eatonton.

“She appears to have been ... shot in the head with what we expect is going to be a .22 pistol,” said Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills.

The sheriff added that Smith apparently shot himself with a rifle.

Deputies responded to the home after receiving a call from the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office that Lawrence had not shown up for work at Jasper Memorial Hospital. Upon arrival, they discovered the two bodies in the yard with a car belonging to Smith’s sister parked just up the street.

“He apparently had laid in wait for her out of vision from the house,” Sills said.

There was also indication in the car that Smith perhaps never intended to return from the home, as the keys were locked inside.

“So apparently he felt no need to bring the keys with him,” Sills said.

The couple had a brief recorded history of domestic violence. Smith had been arrested on an assault charge in May, and he was subject to a protective order against contact with Lawrence beginning in July.

Sills said his office received one more call from Lawrence in August, reporting that Smith had called her, a violation of the order.

“This is the unfortunate yet classic end to many domestic violence cases,” Sills said.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find him on Twitter @MTJTimm.