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Question of 'why' lingers after 3 violent deaths in Greensboro

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Updated 12:15 a.m.

GREENSBORO — A Browns Summit man who went on a spree of violence Monday left behind two dead women, another woman in the hospital, his own corpse with a self-inflicted gunshot, and one sobering question: Why?

What led Menice Montell Smith to go on a rampage that stretched across Guilford County may never be known. Greensboro investigators — and those who knew the victims — searched for the answers.

But they didn’t come.

“We might never know,” Greensboro police Capt. Mike Richey said. “The only person who could answer that took his own life.”

The only thing certain was the string of victims left in Smith’s wake, a trail that stretched from Greensboro to Browns Summit and started before dawn.

Deborah Kay Huffines, 53, who was assaulted with a crowbar, is being treated at Moses Cone Hospital where she’s in stable condition.

Jaime Lynn Goode, 36, was fatally shot in her home.

Michaela Dionne Brewington, 46, also was found beaten to death in her home.

Smith, 41, took his own life before he could be apprehended by police.

What incited the violence wasn’t known. Or a reason for the timing. Or even the order in which the crimes were committed Monday.

On the surface, Smith didn’t seem capable of such crimes. A contract truck driver for the U.S. Postal Service, Smith had a number of traffic violations and misdemeanors but no apparent history of violence, according to police records.

“I’m just really surprised that something like this happened,” said Greg Tyler, a longtime acquaintance of Smith’s.

The rampage started before dawn in what initially looked like a simple assault. Eventually, though, it would have echoes of Mary Ann Holder’s killing spree in November 2011.

At 5:08 a.m., Huffines of Greensboro was arriving at the Yanceyville Street post office where she works when she was severely beaten with a crowbar.

At some point, Smith called a friend and admitted that he had killed two people and injured a third. His friend notified police.

“That was the start of a bad day,” Richey said.

Police went hunting for Smith. They traveled to his home at 3579 Sydney Oaks Drive in Browns Summit.

But he wasn’t there.

A neighbor told officers that Smith had a girlfriend a few doors down.

“We knocked on that door,” Richey said.

Nobody answered. The door was unlocked.

At 8:50 a.m., police went inside where they found a body. It belonged to Jamie Lynn Goode.

At the Yanceyville Street post office, the assault on Huffines had officials worried. When Brewington didn’t show up for work, they called the police.

Sometime after noon, Brewington was found dead in her home at 3815 Pineway Drive in Greensboro. Her body was so badly beaten that investigators couldn’t determine the cause of death. But they were certain about one thing: The white Mercedes registered to her address was missing.

Police sent out a regional broadcast and a Guilford County sheriff’s deputy spotted the car.

A police chase ensued on South Elm-Eugene Street. It ended less than a mile later when a police cruiser rammed into Smith. Rather than be apprehended, he took his own life.

Police said Monday that it appeared Smith and Goode were romantically involved.

His connection to the other two women wasn’t clear Monday.

It also wasn’t known if the three women knew each other.

“It does not appear all these relationships were romantic,” Richey said. “I don’t understand what would lead to this occurring.”

And so it went Monday, as investigators started putting together the pieces of a crime that had far more questions than answers and more hurt than healing — for both sides.

At the Smith family home in Reidsville, friends gathered to show their support but declined to talk to the media.

On Bethany Trace in Greensboro, a man who identified himself as a friend of Smith’s wondered if he could’ve done more.

He said someone rang his doorbell a few times around 7 a.m.

But he didn’t answer and recalled seeing a black man drive away.

When news broke of a rampage across the city, he figured it was Smith who was trying to reach out.

“I wish I did talk to him,” the friend said. “But if someone’s got suicide on their mind, it’s hard to talk them out of it.”

Staff Writers Joe Gamm, Jonnelle Davis, Brad Kesler, Kelly Poe and Sarah Newell Williamson contributed to this report.


Updated 6:55 p.m.

GREENSBORO − Menice Montell Smith called and told a friend that he had killed two people and injured a third, police Capt. Mike Richey said. 

The friend then notified police.

“That was the start of a bad day,” Richey said.

By 2 p.m., police were investigating the deaths of two women and the severe beating of another.

Deborah Kay Huffines, 53, of Greensboro, was assaulted at 5:08 a.m. at the post office at 1585 Yancyville St. Huffines knew her attacker, police said.

Police went to Smith’s Browns Summit home at 3579 Sidney Oaks Drive, where an unidentified person told them Smith had a girlfriend who lived nearby at 3573 Sydney Oaks Court, Richey said.

Nobody answered the unlocked door and police went inside and found 36-year-old Jamie Lynn Goode fatally shot, Richey said.

Later in the morning, police got information that Smith may be driving a white Mercedes, police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen said.

The Mercedes was spotted by a Guilford County sheriff's deputy just before noon near Vandalia Road. The Mercedes hit a vehicle, before crashing into a tree in the median of South Elm-Eugene Street. They found Smith inside the car, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Danielsen said.

Police later found an acquaintance of Smith's girlfriend, Michaela Dionne Brewington, 46, dead at her home at 3815 Pineway Drive in Greensboro. Brewington also was a postal worker, police said. 

Charlotte Wilson, who said she was a friend of Brewington's mother, said a postal worker had called the family because Brewington had not shown up for work.

Smith was a contract driver for the United States Postal Service, police said.

“It does not appear all these relationships were romantic,” Richey said. “I don’t understand what would lead to this occurring.”

Huffines, who was beaten with a crowbar and suffered injuries to her head and hands, was in stable condition at Moses Cone Hospital, police said.

Brewington's cause of death has not been determined, police said.

Authorities have assigned a different investigator for each of the three deaths and police have recovered all the weapons believed used in the homicides and the assault.


Updated 5:14 p.m.

GREENSBORO − Police have identified the second homicide victim and a woman who was assaulted at a post office this morning.

Jamie Lynn Goode, 36, was found fatally shot in her home at 3573 Sydney Oaks Drive, according to a news release.

Deborah Kay Huffines, 53, of Greensboro, was assaulted at the post office at 1585 Yanceyville St., the release states. She is in stable condition at a local hospital.

Police also confirmed the name of the other homicide victim found as Michaela Dionne Brewington, 46. She was found dead in her home at 3815 Pineway Drive; the cause of her death has not yet been determined, the release states.

All three women were known to Menice Montell Smith, 41, of Browns Summit, who police believe is responsible for the crimes.

Smith, a contracted truck driver, was acquainted with Huffines and Brewington through work. Both women were employed by the United States Postal Service. It’s unclear how Smith knew Goode, the release states.

Smith fatally shot himself in Brewington’s vehicle after a brief police pursuit on South Elm-Eugene Street shortly before noon today.

A motive for the crimes has not been established and the investigation is continuing.

Check back at news-record.com for updates.


Updated 4 p.m.

GREENSBORO − Two relatives confirmed that the woman who was found dead today at 3815 Pineway Drive in Greensboro is Michaela Dionne Brewington. 

Brother Randy Brewington and uncle Daniel Norman said that Michaela Brewington, 46, is the woman who was found dead shortly after noon today. Police believe that Menice Montell Smith killed her. 

"She was very caring and would always go out of her way to make sure everybody was happy," said Randy Brewington. "We have no clue what happened. She was in a long-term relationship with somebody. This coming Thursday is her birthday."

The relatives confirmed to a reporter that Brewington worked for the U.S. Postal Service. They said she has a 21-year-old son.

Police believe Smith assaulted another postal worker this morning. 


Updated 3:40 p.m.

GREENSBORO − Police are still investigating what caused a man to allegedly kill two women, critically injure a third and take his own life on Monday.

"We still have no idea what caused these actions," said Susan Danielsen, police spokeswoman.

Menice Montell Smith, 41, of Greensboro, is believed to be responsible for the homicides of two women and an attack on a third with a crowbar.

Police were first notified of the attacks about 5:10 a.m., when someone called 911 after a female postal worker was hit in the head with a crowbar in the parking lot of the Post Office at 1585 Yanceyville St. That woman has not been identified, but she is currently at Moses Cone Hospital in critical but stable condition. She has lacerations, contusions and possibly broken bones, police said.

Like the woman, Smith has ties to the U.S. Postal Service. Police said Smith is a truck driver contracted by the Postal Service.

Prior to the assault, police believe Smith shot and killed a woman at 3573 Sydney Oaks Drive in Greensboro, Danielsen said. Police went to the house about 9 a.m. and found the woman dead. She also has not been identified pending notification of her family.

Later in the morning, police got information Smith may be driving a white Mercedes. Before that, they were looking for a black or dark-colored Chevy Tahoe--the description of the vehicle given to them by a witness of the assault at the post office, Danielsen said.

The Mercedes was spotted by a Guilford County Sheriff's deputy just before noon near Vandalia Road. The Mercedes hit a vehicle, before crashing into a tree in the median of South Elm-Eugene Street. They found Smith inside the car, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, Danielsen said.

Police also found another woman they believe Smith killed at 3815 Pineway Drive. The discovery was made just after noon after tracking the license plate of the white Mercedes driven by Smith to the address, police said. It's not yet clear when she was killed.

Officials are not releasing how the woman died, due to the state her body was in, Danielsen said. Her name is also not being released pending notification of her family.

Police said Smith was acquaintances with the woman who lives at Pineway Drive, but are still investigating how they knew each other.


Updated 1:53 p.m.

Greensboro police say they are investigating a second homicide believed to have been committed by Menice Montell Smith.

Detectives are investigating the death of a woman at 3815 Pineway Drive. She was found deceased in the home shortly after noon, according to police.

Police responded to the residence after confirming that the license plate on the Mercedes driven by Smith was registered to this address.

The investigation continues. Please check back for updates.


Updated: 1:05 p.m.

Police say that Menice Montell Smith, the man wanted in connection with an assault on a postal worker and homicide of a female acquaintance, has died of an apparent suicide.

Greensboro police believe Smith shot himself after a brief vehicle pursuit that began at 11:54 a.m., according to a news release.

A Guilford County Sheriff's deputy observed a white vehicle matching the description in a regional alert and attempted to stop it.

The driver, later identified as Smith, accelerated, initiating a pursuit, according to police.

Nearby Greensboro police officers joined the pursuit, which ended when Smith's vehicle crashed into a tree in the median of the 3300 block of Elm-Eugene Street.

Police say that when officers approached the vehicle they discovered Smith fatally shot himself.

Smith was pronounced deceased at Moses Cone Hospital.


Updated 12:21 p.m.

Greensboro police and emergency workers are responding to a wreck at South Elm-Eugene Street near Montcastle Drive. 

Police spokeswoman Susan Danielsen said she believes the wreck is connected to the earlier assault and homicide. 

Check back for updates. 


Updated 10:30 a.m.

A man is now wanted both in connection with an assault on a female postal worker in Greensboro and the death of a woman in Browns Summit. 

Greensboro police are looking for Menice Montell Smith, 41, of Browns Summit. They believe he is driving either a white four-door Mercedes or a black or dark-colored Chevy Tahoe bearing N.C. registration BAX-4493.

Smith is a black male, approximately 6 feet 1 inch tall, weighing about 235 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black shirt and jogging pants, according to police.

He is considered armed and dangerous. 

Greensboro police discovered the body of a dead woman this morning at 3573 Sydney Oaks Drive in The Arbors at Lake Herman subdivision in Browns Summit. 

Police don't know how long the woman had been dead, but she was found at 8:50 a.m., said spokeswoman Susan Danielsen. She said Smith knew the woman, but wouldn't say more about the nature of their relationship.

Police have called the death a homicide. They are withholding the name of the woman until they can notify relatives about her death.  

Sydney Oaks Drive resident Beal Dickens said the incident is the first crime he's known to occur in the subdivision since he moved there two years ago.

"I feel a little shaky knowing this happened so close to home," said Dickens, 46. 

Smith is also suspected of assaulting a postal worker at the Yanceyville Street office around 5:08 this morning. Police have not released the name of this second woman. 

Witness statements indicate that Smith, a truck driver contracted by the U.S. Postal Service, assaulted the woman with a crowbar, causing life-threatening trauma to her head, according to police. She was transported by EMS to Moses Cone Hospital where she is currently receiving treatment.

Police are searching for Smith throughout the region and are looking for him at places he frequents.

Smith may have a hand gun. Anyone who sees him or knows of his whereabouts should not approach him, and should call 911 immediately.


GREENSBORO — Police say a woman was attacked with a crowbar this morning when she showed up for work at a U.S. post office in Greensboro.

The woman called 911 about 5:10 a.m. this morning after a man attacked her at the post office at 1585 Yanceyville St.

The victim was taken to Moses Cone Hospital with facial laceration, contusions and possibly some broken bones, said Capt. Mike Richey with Greensboro police. She is currently in stable condition.

Richey said the man and woman were acquaintances, but he was unsure what sparked the attack. He also was not certain if the man also worked at the post office.

Police are still looking for the man, who is considered armed and dangerous.

Police ask anyone with information to call 911 or call Crime Stoppers at (336) 373-1000.

Contact Mike Kernels at (336) 373-7120.

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