Mark A. Smith, born on June 27th, 1949, has confessed to 10 murders, authorities believe he may have committed at least 20 murders, was before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board this past Wednesday for the 13th time via video. He was convicted of 4 murders in the 1970’s and has been in prison since then serving a 500 year prison sentence imposed in 1971. The death penalty was not available at the time and state law makes him eligible for possible parole. It is extremely unlikely that he will be released this time around either, and even if he was, he is facing a “natural” life sentence in Arkansas for a murder he committed there.
Smith was convicted in Illinois of brutally raping and killing Jean Irene Bianchi, of McHenry, Il (She was 27 at the time- he was 20) and mother of two young children, the murder of 17-year-old Jean Ann Lingenfelter, Janice Bolyard (he used her pantyhose to rape and strangle her-she was a chemist at Desoto Chemical Plant in Des Plaines, IL), and Obie Faye Ash (of Mountain Home, Arkansas). While serving in the military in Germany and Viet Nam, he may have claimed 8 or more victims. In his book, “Legally Insane”, he boasts about various murders, and says he could hear Bianchi’s lungs fill with blood after he punctured them. Her body was discovered in a creek having been stabbed at least 17 times and her teeth were knocked out. He had been to the prom with Lingenfelter approximately a week prior to killing her; he strangled her with her bra.
At one of his previous parole hearings, he said “Everyone has got to die sometime”. The hearings were until recently, held every 3 years-this period has since been extended to 5 years. The state continues to strongly oppose his parole. His prison sentence technically expires in 2220. In a 1990 Chicago Tribune article he reflected on his deeds and said “I didn’t have a sense of self-worth. I didn’t like myself, much less anyone else”. He was an artist in the prison occasionally selling his work to guards. He claimed that he once, at the age of 8, tried to strangle a female classmate and stabbed a 6-year-old with a pen knife 20 times when he was 9. He didn’t consider himself a monster though. A psychologist who examined him shortly after he entered prison said he was more dangerous man than Charles Manson or Richard Speck (the killer of numerous nurses). The doctor opined that paroling Smith sometime in the future would be like giving a blind person a drivers’ license.