TRR photo by Fritz Mayer 

Jail administrator Hal Smith holds up two shanks. The one on the left has a plastic tip, and Smith considered it to be relatively harmless; the one on the right, however, is deadly.  

Murder and shanks at safety meeting

MONTICELLO, NY — The Sullivan County Public Safety Committee discussed the murder of 83-year-old Lorraine Gempler, who was killed on September 23 in Kenoza Lake, at its meeting in the government center on October 4.

District Attorney Jim Farrell told legislators he was going to personally handle the prosecution of suspected killer 42-year-old Toby Jay Smith. “It really is a case that makes everybody fear, because it was totally gratuitous in terms of violence,” Farrell said.

Sheriff Mike Schiff complimented all of the public safety officials in the county who participated in reacting to the crime, adding that, “The heroes of the day were the two civilians who apprehended the defendant, Mr. Smith. Without them, that guy would have been in the wind. I don’t know how long it would have taken us to apprehend him. People would have been in fear; they wouldn’t have been sleeping at night, and if they were, probably with a shotgun. And when you get scared like that accidents happen. So those two heroes really saved the day.”

He continued, “Everybody in public safety came together. All I can say is, what we did that night is what we should strive for in public safety.”

Shanks in the county jail

In other news, jail administrator Hal Smith said training and education for new procedures at the new jail have started. He also said that staff doing a routine search of the prison recently found a shank. He held it up; it had a small tip that looked like sharpened plastic. “Now in my opinion after 35 years this isn’t much of a shank, so this was actually a good day for our staff,” he said.”A year and a half ago, we found this.” He held up a shank with a four-inch bit of pointed metal. “This would cause your death. This,” he said referring to the plastic one, “we’ll be all right.”


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