Men in My Town

“Keith Smith: A story of pain, fear and hope”

Posted in Men in My Town by Keith Smith on November 7, 2010

by Audra Clark, Valley Breeze Staff Writer

LINCOLN – In 1974, Keith Smith, a Lincoln teen, was abducted, beaten and raped by a stranger at the age of 14, but he still considers himself one of the luckiest people anyone could ever meet.

That night he was held captive for two hours and 15 minutes, said Smith. Forty-five more minutes and his chances of being murdered as well would have jumped to 50 percent. But he wasn’t murdered, said Smith. He survived and went on to lead a good life.

Recently, he returned to Lincoln on Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the Marriott Courtyard, 636 George Washington Highway to tell his story.

His talk included a discussion on reasonable steps to keep children safe and a reading of excerpts from his book, “Men in My Town,” about his experience dealing with what had happened to him.

On Friday, March 1, 1974, Smith said he was trying to get home after a weekly meeting with his hockey team on Front Street.

He said he walked down to Smithfield Avenue and was hitchhiking home.

Keith Smith. Stranger Abduction Sexual Assault Survivor and author of "Men in My Town."

“Back then, in 1974, to see a 14-year-old kid hitchhiking home was not all that uncommon,” said Smith.

He said a car pulled up beside him and the passenger door opened.

Smith said he got in and told the man driving to take him to Hartley’s Pork Pies.

“Very little conversation took place from the time I got in the car to the time he drove past Hartley’s Pork Pies,” said Smith. “As he drove past Hartley’s, I didn’t think anything of it. I guess I just thought he forgot where I told him I wanted to get out.”

Smith said he told the guy to drop him off just past Hartley’s, but the guy ignored him, and then he sped up.

“That’s when I realized something’s not right,” said Smith. “He definitely knew I wanted to get out and he wasn’t pulling over to let me out.”

There was a bar on the corner a few blocks down called Kiernan’s Lounge, now Brooksie’s Pub. At that intersection, he said, the man took a right onto Grafton Street.

When the man slowed down to take the turn, Smith said he saw his chance to escape and grabbed the handle on the passenger door. He said he leaned on the door figuring he would roll out onto the parking lot of Kiernan’s, but the door wouldn’t open.

Smith explained that the man was a “recidivist predator” and the door had been rigged so that once it was closed, it wouldn’t open again.

He said the man turned to him after that, punched Smith in the head and he told him, “don’t do it again.”

The man then drove up Cobble Hill Road, took a right on Louisquisset Pike past the State Police barracks and the Lincoln Downs racetrack (now Twin River), said Smith. He said eventually they arrived behind Fairlawn Golf Course off Sherman Avenue and drove down a road that was wooded and had no streetlights. Smith said the man drove off the road about 100 yards into the woods “where he proceeds to give me a beating and to sexually assault me.”

The incident occurred between 6 and 8:15 p.m., said Smith.

He said the man then took him back to Smithfield Avenue and onto Higginson Avenue toward Central Falls, and pulled into the Cote’s Meat Market parking lot.

Smith said the man got out of his car and opened up the passenger side door with a key from the outside.

“I’m not about to get out of the car because as long as I’m in the car and he’s out I’m safe,” said Smith. “He walked back around the car to get back in and as he gets on the driver’s side of his car that is when it was time for me to get out.”

He said that’s when he jumped out of the passenger side door, picked up a broken piece of cement and used to it smash the rear window of the man’s AMC Gremlin auto.

“I did that with intent,” said Smith. “I wanted to make sure I marked up his car pretty bad so that when I told the cops what he was driving there would be some way to identify it.”

Then, said Smith, he took off, running down through the parking lot of Lincoln Lanes bowling alley, what is now the Keefe Funeral Home.

He said he ran through several back yards, and street to street, hiding behind trees and cars to get home.

By this time it was dark, said Smith, and every pair of headlights seemed like it was the man, coming back to kill him.

When he got home, said Smith, his oldest brother and his father were there.

“I wasn’t in the house for a minute,” he said. His oldest brother knew something was really wrong as soon as Smith entered the house and he called to their father, said Smith. A couple of minutes later, he said, he was at the Lincoln Police station telling his story to a detective.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Smith. “but there were a couple of moments during my captivity where I said to myself, I’m not trying to be dramatic, but I did this, I said, if I live through the night, he will pay.”

He said that is what led him to read the man’s license plate, back then written on the rear of inspection stickers on the windshield, for the two hours he was captive until it was “emblazoned” in his memory.

Smith said he gave the police the description of the man, the license plate number, the car’s make and model and told them he broke the window.

Eventually the officer said “well you got the right guy,” after they ran the license plate, said Smith. The man had been arrested a number of times for sex crimes against children, said Smith.

“He was indicted, but he never went to trial because someone beat him to death before his court date,” said Smith. “No one’s ever been charged with his murder.”

Thirty-five years later, Smith said he decided to write his book, “Men in My Town,” because he was finally able to let go of the guilt and the shame of what happened to him.

He said he was ready to tell people what happened, because after three decades, less than six people ever knew that he had been raped. Even his five siblings, except for his oldest brother, and his daughters didn’t know.

The book, he said, is not about the bad guy who lived in Central Falls, but about “guys in my town.”

They were known to his family, he said, and were ever present figures in town, always at Brooksie’s or at the golf course, where Smith worked as a teen.

“They made me feel that they knew and because they knew, I was safe,” said Smith. “The book is not about a sexual assault or a brutal murder, it is a story about men who made a boy feel safe in a troubled time in his life. It is a story of hope.”

In the book, most of the names and a few of the circumstances have been changed to respect people’s privacy.

Smith said the book, which is available at amazon.com, “has done a lot for me,” and he said he hopes it helps other survivors find hope.

___________________________________________________________________

The story of the abduction, beating and rape of a teenage boy from Lincoln, Rhode Island, followed by the unsolved brutal murder of his assailant in Providence, is now a moving novel written by the man who survived this vicious attack.  Read Men in My Town by Keith Smith. Based on Actual Events.   Available now at Amazon.com in Paperback and Kindle.

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