July 18, 2014 - 9:54 am
A man who died Thursday at a Northern Nevada prison was serving a life sentence for the 2002 killing of a former “Little Rascals” actor in Las Vegas.
Charles “Wayne” Crombie, 64, was homeless when former child actor Jay R. Smith, 87, befriended him shortly after becoming a widower from his wife of 46 years. Smith let Crombie live in a shed behind his mobile home near Flamingo Road and Decatur Boulevard, Las Vegas police said in 2002.
In October 2002, Crombie stabbed Smith three times in the belly before stealing his car and dumping his body near Apex, 25 miles north of Las Vegas.
Crombie emptied Smith’s bank account and used the money to party and go on gambling binges before being arrested for the killing, police said.
“All he was trying to do was help you get on your feet and you murdered him,” Smith’s granddaughter, Darlla Juann, said to Crombie during the trial. “I hope his ghost haunts you every night as you lay in your cell until you die.”
During his sentencing, Crombie wrote a letter to the judge in his case. “I now have blood on my hands that shall never wash clean,” the letter said. “A remorse that time will never erase.”
Crombie had a chronic medical condition before his death. He was sentenced to life in prison on a first-degree murder conviction.
Smith acted in the short film series “Little Rascals,” also known as “Our Gang,” in the 1920s. Family said he earned $5 a week from acting and was the breadwinner for his family.
Smith was a World War II veteran who settled in Hawaii where he sold crafts and frames in a store he owned. He relocated to Las Vegas for retirement more than 10 years before his murder.
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