Court testimony reveals new details about finding 8-year-old’s body in trash bag
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EMMETT —- Investigators and a witness appeared in court Tuesday to testify against a woman accused of covering up the death of her 8-year-old granddaughter.
Connie Ann Smith, 53, appeared at the Gem County Courthouse dressed in her black and white jail uniform as an Idaho State Police detective shared the moment he realized he had discovered the body of 8-year-old Taryn Summers. The hearing was streamed live over Magistrate Judge Tyler Smith’s YouTube page.
“I kind of got that feeling,” the detective said about finding the body.
Both local and federal investigators began searching for Taryn on April 12 after she vanished from Smith’s Emmett home. At the preliminary hearing, investigators testified how Smith told investigators that around 4 p.m., she went to give Taryn a snack while she was in her room. With Taryn reportedly refusing to eat, Smith claimed she went to tend to the other kids in her care. By 5 p.m., Taryn was missing.
Smith called local authorities around 7 p.m. and a massive search for Taryn began. At the time, Taryn’s two older siblings were also reported as runaways and there was a concern for their safety. However, since last fall, both siblings have been located.
As the search continued, investigators took custody of the other children in Smith’s home. When discussing car seats for the children, Smith reportedly told police to take them from a red pickup in her yard, not a black Lexus parked nearby. Smith claimed the Lexus had car troubles and she could not find the keys.
An ISP trooper found the keys to the Lexus hiding above the kitchen cabinets of Smith’s home. Detectives then opened the backdoors of the Lexus when they found a trash bag. Inside the bag, troopers discovered the body of a child that DNA tests later confirmed was Taryn.
“I saw … the profile of what I thought looked like a young child’s face. It had light hair and the complexion of the skin was very pale and the lips, what seemed to me, were blueish in color. I immediately thought that it was the body of Taryn Summers,” a trooper testified.
Prosecutors also believed the Lexus was not actually broken down the day Taryn disappeared because a daycare worker testified Smith dropped off kids in the black car. Prosecutors allege Smith tried to hinder investigators from finding Taryn’s body by placing the keys in a hard-to-find place above the kitchen cabinets.
The preliminary hearing also touched on a piece of carpet cut from Taryn’s room. According to investigators, Smith said Taryn had defecated on the carpet and with the carpet cleaner broken, she thought to cut it out. Smith then said she burned the carpet in a burn pile outside.
Gem County Coroner John Buck also gave brief testimony during the hearing. He simply confirmed he had been called to investigate an “unattended death.”
It is still not publically known how Taryn died.
Smith is charged with felony failure to notify of a death and felony destruction, concealment or alteration of evidence. Magistrate Judge Tyler Smith determined prosecutors had enough probable cause to charge Smith and sent the case to the District Court.
Smith is expected to enter a plea on the charges at an arraignment on Sept. 13. Smith remains held in the Gem County Jail on $800,000 bail.
Although Smith is accused of crimes, it does not necessarily mean she committed them. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty. If convicted of both felonies, Smith faces up to 15 years in prison.