Murder victim mutilated
Thursday, June 7, 2007 1:02 AM CDT


BY RUTHANN ROBINSON


MUNSTER | A 25-year-old man found dead in his home
Tuesday afternoon was disemboweled, police said.

"All of his internal organs were outside the body,"
Munster Police Chief Nick Panich said of Wayne P.
Smith, 7618 Manor Ave.

There were no signs of forced entry, indicating Smith
let his killer into the home, Panich said.

There also was evidence of partying, Panich said. They
were "having a good time with alcohol," he said
Wednesday during a news conference.

The house had been ransacked "as if someone was
looking for something," Panich said, but valuable
electronics and cash remained inside.

Panich said Smith had affiliations with the Latin
Kings street gang in Hammond, where he lived prior to
moving to Munster.

Neighbors had complained of activity during all hours
at the duplex, and police have not ruled out that
drugs may have been involved, Panich said.

The Lake County coroner's office listed the cause of
death as "internal trauma to the abdomen due to
penetrating injury." The coroner's office declined to
further describe the wounds.

A Suzuki motorcycle towed from the property following
the slaying was reported as stolen to the Hammond
police about a month ago, Panich said.

Court records show the Hammond Police Department filed
a civil forfeiture case in Lake County court against
Smith, Noe Hurtado, 26, and Joel Hurtado, 21,
involving a Dec. 1, 2005, drug case. In that case,
police seized less than $800, two digital scales and
two scanners believed to be used in the possession of
cocaine, the case file states.

Forfeiture cases are used by authorities to seize and
keep property or cash believed to have been used in
the commission of crimes.

Neither Smith nor Joel Hurtado were charged with
dealing in that case. Noe Hurtado is scheduled to be
sentenced in Lake County court on June 14 in a
cocaine-dealing case filed in January 2006. Hammond
Police Chief Brian Miller said Noe Hurtado is listed
in Hammond's gang database as being a Latin King.

Smith's body was found by a union friend who went to
check on him about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Police and
coroner's officials then responded. The coroner's
office said Smith was declared dead on the floor of
his bedroom at 5:38 p.m.

Panich said Munster historically has had about one
homicide every three years, but "that has increased
slightly to about one every two years. It's still a
very safe community. We don't believe this is a random
killing."

The last homicide in Munster was the Feb. 13, 2004,
beheading of 81-year-old Margaret Jansky.

Jansky's daughter, Margaret Church, 57, who was
diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, is serving a
55-year sentence for her mother's murder.