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Wife of Marine Suspected in W. Texas Slayings Found Dead in NC

By Betsy Blaney and Michael Biesecker
|  Tuesday, May 28, 2013  |  Updated 4:40 PM CDT
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Wife of Marine in W. Texas Shootings Found Dead

A veteran of two combat tours in Afghanistan, Lance Cpl. Esteban Smith is suspected in a West Texas shooting rampage that left one woman dead and five others wounded.

A Marine killed after going on a shooting spree that left one person dead and several hospitalized in Texas also is suspected of fatally stabbing his wife, whose body was found in a North Carolina motel room hours after the rampage, police said Tuesday.

Rubi Estefania Smith of Bakersfield, Calif., was found dead Sunday afternoon in a motel room near Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, N.C., police said in a news release. She was the wife of Lance Cpl. Esteban J. Smith, a 23-year-old Marine who died Sunday in a gunfight with Texas authorities.

Police spokeswoman Beth Purcell said Rubi Estefania Smith appears to have died from a knife wound.

A veteran of two combat tours in Afghanistan, Esteban Smith is suspected in a West Texas shooting rampage that left one woman dead and five others wounded. An assault rifle, handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were recovered from Smith's vehicle.

Smith, who was also from Bakersfield, was stationed with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune. Base spokesman Master Sgt. Jonathan Cress said investigators have determined the firearms used in the shootings were not issued by the military.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Maureen Krebs said Smith enlisted in November 2008. He returned from his second tour as an infantry rifleman in Afghanistan in November 2012. He was awarded several decorations, including a Combat Action Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Krebs said.

The Texas shootings began about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, when the gunman shot a motorist in the Eden area of Concho County, about 40 miles southeast of San Angelo and 210 miles southwest of Dallas. She was hospitalized in San Angelo with non-life-threatening wounds, Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said.

Over the next 90 minutes, two more people were shot while sitting in a car at a convenience store in adjacent McCulloch County. Both were treated and released from a hospital, Vinger said.

Shortly after 6 a.m., Alicia Torres, 41, was found dead in her car in Eola, just east of San Angelo, Vinger said.

The suspect fired on the vehicle of Concho County Sheriff Richard Doane when the sheriff came upon him north of Eden, according to DPS. Doane, who suffered non-life-threatening wounds in the gunfire and hospitalized, was released from a San Angelo hospital early Tuesday, Shannon Medical Center spokeswoman Suzi Reynolds said.

Doane did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Rubi Smith's remains were found about 2 p.m. Sunday at the Sunset Inn, a motel advertising low rates and Jacuzzi tubs near the gates of the sprawling Marine base on the North Carolina coast. Purcell said Jacksonville police were called to the scene by authorities with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who discovered the body.

An autopsy is underway to determine when she died but that evidence collected as part of the ongoing investigation "establishes that Esteban Smith appears to be responsible for his wife's death."

Without stops, it is more than a 22-hour drive from Jacksonville, N.C. to Eden, Texas.

Biesecker reported from Raleigh, N.C.

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