A female inmate, Brookey West attempts prison escape at the Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center in North Las Vegas Friday morning.
Brookey West tried to leave the jail while other inmates were on their way to breakfast. She was disguised but failed to fool the staff who recognized her as the tried to pass though the security gate.
West is serving a life sentence for murdering her mother, Christine Smith, and hiding her body in a storage unit.
Christine Smith had disappeared in 1998. West has said that she had sent Smith to stay with her son, who is West’s brother, Travis Smith, in California. In 2001, Smith’s body was recovered stuffed into a garbage can in a Las Vegas storage unit.
The police suspected that west did indeed kill her alcoholic mother and speculated that she possibly killed her brother. too Because so much had time had passed from when West first disappeared, a medical examiner testified that he was unable to determine how Smith died.
West maintained that she mother died peacefully and from natural causes. She said that she panicked and stuffed her body in the trash can.
Violence in West’s family goes back to at least 1961. That year Smith, tried to kill a married man after he broke off their affair. Smith had invited the man and his wife to a restaurant to bury the hatchet, but she came armed with a shotgun and shot him in the chest as he sat down across the table.
The man survived, and Smith spent five years in a California prison for attempted murder. West, then 7, and her brother lived in an orphanage during that time.
West was also a suspect in the slaying of her husband in California in 1994. She is also collected Social Security checks in the name of her brother, who could not be located by Las Vegas police.
What made the case so interesting was the testimony of Neal Haskell, a forensic entomologist at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind.
He testified that blow flies were not present on the dead body. Instead he found, “coffin flies”, which are insects that cannibalize dead bodies after they have undergone initial decomposition. Since there were no blow flies, Haskell concluded that Smith was either put into the garbage alive or immediately after she died. According to Dr Haskell,
“That showed me that West had to have lied about what she did with her mother”
West was then convicted and sentenced to life.
She’s been billed as Las Vegas’ most notorious serial killer.