Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2002 | 11:08 a.m.
In the two weeks between the time "Our Gang" actor Jay R. Smith was stabbed to death and the arrest of a homeless man he was helping, the man, Charles Wayne Crombie, went on a spending spree, Metro Police say.
Metro Police allege Crombie used Smith's Visa debit card to buy tickets to several movies and used it to withdraw more than $3,200 from the 87-year-old man's checking account.
Crombie, 52, was formally charged Tuesday with open murder, robbery with use of a deadly weapon, victim 65 or older and fraudulent use of a debit card.
Justice of the Peace James Bixler scheduled a preliminary hearing date of Nov. 14.
"There are two sides to every story and in due time, our story will come out," Deputy Public Defender Charles Cano said.
Details of Crombie's movie-going habit are contained within a Metro Police report released Tuesday.
According to the report, a man's partially clad body was found wrapped in a sheet near the Apex exit of Interstate 15 on Oct. 5. An autopsy revealed he had been stabbed many times in the abdomen.
Twelve days later Smith was reported missing by a daughter who learned her father hadn't been seen by neighbors since Oct. 1. She also reported that "Wayne," a homeless man her father had provided shelter to, also hadn't been seen since that date.
A search of Smith's home revealed that the rug in the master bedroom had been recently scrubbed, but still appeared to be blood-stained, police reports indicate. A blood-soaked towel was also found along with two pillowcases that matched the sheet Smith's body was found in.
A further investigation revealed that someone named Charles Crombie had pawned Smith's TV and VCR for $10 apiece and Smith's debit card was being used, primarily at the Gold Coast and at the Brenden 16 Theaters.
According to the police report, detectives found out that Charles Crombie's middle name is Wayne and were able to match his picture to pictures taken of "Wayne" and Smith together.
The pictures of Crombie were distributed to the Palms and Gold Coast and he was arrested inside the food court at the Palms on Oct. 24 after being spotted by security.
According to the police report, Crombie confessed to killing Smith, cleaning the murder scene, pawning Smith's belongings, stealing his car and using his credit card.
Smith's freckled face appeared in "Our Gang" short comedies as the characters "Freckles" and "Specs" from 1925 to 1929, better known to television audiences as "The Little Rascals."