Big Stone Gap murder suspect: Joshua Blake Smith

Smith

BIG STONE GAP — A man arrested Thursday on second- degree murder charges is accused of choking and stabbing his grandmother before using her debit card to go shopping.

Joshua Blake Smith, 31, Big Stone Gap, was arrested at about 3 p.m. on Thursday after Big Stone Gap police officers responded to a welfare check request for the Albemarle Street East residence of Charlene Osborne, 72.

According to warrants and a criminal complaint filed by Big Stone Gap Police Sgt. W. Hollinger, officers saw Smith outside Osborne’s residence when they arrived.

The officers followed Smith to the front door and asked to speak with Osborne, where Smith allegedly said she was sick and could not come to the door.

After asking Smith numerous times to see Osborne, according to Hollinger’s complaint, Smith called for Osborne. Hollinger said in his complaint that he and officers heard no indication of anyone else in the home.

Hollinger said he saw a syringe filled with clear liquid and also a pair of women’s tennis shoes with a “dark red stain” on one of the shoes.

Officers then entered Osborne’s home after Smith called again for her, according to the complaint, and found what appeared to be a body under bed clothes and a pillow covered in what appeared to be blood. They arrested Smith and allegedly found a pocket knife in his possession and saw what appeared to be blood on his boots.

After getting a search warrant, Big Stone Gap Police, Virginia State Police and Wise County Sheriff’s deputies found Osborne’s body with what appeared to be cuts on her neck and multiple stab wounds in her neck and chest.

According to the complaint, officers also found a tarpaulin and shovel in the front yard and the syringe and a spoon.

According to Hollinger’s statement, Smith allegedly told a Wise County Sheriff’s investigator that he went to Osborne’s home late Wednesday or early Thursday morning and choked her, broke her phone, carried her into her bedroom, tried to smother her with a pillow and then cut and stabbed her with a knife.

Smith allegedly told the investigator that he was preparing to inject himself with Subutex — also known as buprenorphine — from the syringe.

Smith also allegedly admitted to the investigator that he had asked another person — not named in the complaint — to “help get rid of the body.” Smith allegedly told that person he had killed Osborne.

“He said it took her several hours to die,” Hollinger said in his complaint, adding that Smith had been charged with trespassing at Osborne’s residence on April 26.

Hollinger said Smith allegedly admitted to taking Osborne’s debit card and vehicle to buy clothing and a phone.

A receipt in Osborne’s vehicle matched Thursday’s date and the last four numbers of her debit card, Hollinger said.

Smith was charged Thursday with five felonies: second-degree murder, abduction, credit card larceny, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and solicitation of concealing a dead body.

Smith was also charged with five misdemeanor charges: interfering with a call to 911, trespassing, credit card fraud, identity theft under $1,000 and possession of a Schedule III controlled substance.

Smith was also served with three capias warrants for failure to appear in Wise County General District Court in July and August on unrelated charges.

Wise County and Norton Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp III said Friday that Smith was scheduled for arraignment next week.

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