Father and 4-Year-Old Son Shot, Mother Died After Falling From Cliff Fleeing Attacker
A father and his 4-year-old son were shot dead by a 19-year-old shepherd, while the mother fell off a cliff and died when she tried to flee, according to officials in the Republic of Georgia.
“We would like to inform the public about the fact of terrible murder,” the Interior Ministry of Georgia announced July 9.
Ryan Smith, Lora Smith and their son, Caleb, were confirmed dead when their bodies were found in Khada Gorge, the Dusheti region of Georgia, days after they were killed on July 4.
Police started looking for the family on July 6 when they were notified the Smiths had gone missing.
They found a car and personal belongings in Tskere village, and also Lora Smith’s body at the edge of a waterfall with “no traces of violence.”
On July 7, Ryan Smith’s body was found, and an autopsy concluded he died from a gunshot wound.
Police arrested a 19-year-old shepherd, who later confessed to the murder, according to Agenda.ge.
The shepherd, who officials refer to as M.K., later led police to Caleb’s body, which he had initially hid, according to Agenda.ge. M.K. was charged with premeditated murder and faces life in prison.
Police believe the shooting stemmed from an argument between M.K. and Ryan Smith but could not ascertain details.
According to Ryan’s Facebook page, he was from San Diego, California, but later moved to Georgia, where he founded reWoven, a company that sells handcrafted woven carpets. His wife, Lora, was teaching English through a Georgian government program, according to Fox News.
The family lived in Georgia for more than six years and gained dual citizenship in 2012.
Locals of Marneuli region of Georgia, where the Smiths lived, said Ryan and his wife were very helpful, and had intended to build a kindergarten in the region with their own money, according to Agenda.ge.
The U.S. Embassy in Georgia declined to comment to The Associated Press.