The foster mother of one of the victims from the recent triple murder in Lakeland is speaking out about her concerns about David Smith, the man who committed the murders and then killed himself.
Mulberry resident Tammy Wilson took in more than a dozen foster children over the years including Danyala Smith when Danyala was 12 years old. She said she became Danyala's legal guardian and raised her like her own child. In fact, Wilson has also helped to raise Danyala's three children.
Wilson said she got to know Danyala's brother David Smith as well. He would come to family events like holidays and birthdays. Wilson said before David Smith served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan he seemed fairly normal. But when he returned from home from his time in the military he had changed. He had to be Baker Acted several times for mental health problems including suicide attempts.
"He always said he don't need medicine, he's not crazy," Wilson said. "I believe he was crazy. I just believe that. I'm not a doctor. I really think he needed help."
Wilson said Danyala and her father tried many times to help David with his mental health problems but he became increasingly withdrawn. Sometimes he would wake up at night with nightmares of being in battle. Wilson believes that was a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"He would wake up like he was ready to shoot or kill, and he wouldn't have a weapon in his hand, but he would wake up like he was there,” she said.
Wilson also became frightened by David Smith's strange Facebook postings. David knew she was concerned about his mental stability.
"One time, he says, 'Tammy, I am not going to hurt anybody,'" she said.
Wilson said she also warned Danyala about taking her brother into her home. Danya lived with her 14-year-old daughter Channell and partner Miranda Mims.
"She said, 'Mom, he's my brother and I really have to help him,'" Wilson said. "She said, 'If it was one of your brothers would you?' And I told her, 'If I had some small children I would definitely think "no" about it.'"
Danyala's daughter Channell is the person who came home to find the murder scene. Dead inside the home were Danyala, Mims and their friend Nikosi Williams. David Smith shot and killed himself while surrounded by officers in Tennessee.
"To be honest, I am more glad that his life is over so that my granddaughter doesn't have to go through a trial," Wilson said. "I am very glad about that. But he took the coward way out."
Wilson said she doesn't hate David Smith and she now hopes to be a part of raising Channell so she can have a better life.
Danyala's funeral is set for Monday, June 16 at Highland Park Church of the Nazarene in Lakeland.