Poor Isabella didn’t stand a chance.
On 31 July 2014, 2-year-old Isabella Smith just wanted to be read a story and tucked up in bed. Instead, the innocent toddler was drugged and drowned by her own mother – who then heartlessly slit the throat of her older daughter Alana.
Isabella Smith was an adorable, chubby-cheeked toddler with blue eyes and a cheeky smile.
One weekend in July 2014, she was staying at a hotel in Cannon Beach, Oregon, with her mum Jessica, 42, and older sister Alana, then 13.
They’d just enjoyed a fun day at the beach – but it would be the last happy time they shared.
Just hours later, the children would become the victims of a horrific crime, committed by their own mother.
Jessica was in the midst of a messy divorce from the kids’ dad, Greg Smith. He’d just begun the process of applying for custody of both girls – which left Jessica reeling.
The following day, Greg was due to see Isabella and Alana, the first visit in months. The idea was too much for Jessica. So she formed an unthinkable plan…
To kill the children and herself.
Her first victim would be little Isabella. Initially, she planned to slit the 2-year-old’s throat to ‘end her misery’, but she decided it would be more ‘peaceful’ to drown her instead.
But even a toddler can put up a considerable fight for life.
So Jessica stocked up on over-the-counter sedatives that she gave to Isabella to keep her quiet. Once she had fallen into a deep sleep, it was time to commit the gruesome act of killing her child.
She ran a bath in the hotel room’s en-suite and, when the water was deep enough, she carried Isabella’s sleeping body in.
Then, she held the toddler under the water until her body fell limp and she stopped breathing.
She carried her lifeless body back to the bedroom and left her on the bed, propped up with pillows.
Next, she turned her attention to Alana.
Jessica had seemingly managed to brainwash the teenager that death was a better option than living with her dad.
So Alana let Jessica numb her neck with an over-the-counter dental gel. She then used a razor blade to slice her neck and wrists.
The slash wounds inflicted, Alana began to bleed profusely. But rather than staying with her daughter until the end, Jessica fled.
However, she did leave a note.
To whom it may concern, Alana and I wanted to opt out of life and also spare Isa’s little life from being bullied and abused…
She’d promised to commit suicide herself, but added that she didn’t have the time or strength after assisting Alana.
The next morning, hotel housekeeping staff knocked on the bedroom door and heard Alana’s weakened voice telling them to go away.
But their suspicions were raised when they spotted blood stains – so they dialled 911.
Police Chief Schermerhorn quickly arrived, expecting some kind of low-key disturbance.
As he swiped the key card to Room 3302 at the Surfsand Resort, nothing could prepare him for what he would find inside.
‘As I walked in, I saw blood, lots of blood, in different areas, in the bathroom and in the bed, on the sheets and on the floor,’ he said.
Then his eyes reached the bed, where he saw Isabella’s tiny body laying limply, still clothed.
As he rushed over, he noticed there was another person on the bed, too. It was Alana.
When he pulled back the sheet over her, he saw the gashes to her neck and wrists.
But, incredibly, Alana was alive. ‘She had lost so much colour because she had lost so much blood. I think she was just in severe shock,’ the Police Chief said.
Alana, who appeared ‘eerily calm’, was airlifted to a nearby trauma centre for treatment.
Despite losing a significant amount of blood and suffering serious injury, she pulled through.
But now the hunt was on to find the woman who had done such unspeakable things.
Two days later, a coastguard helicopter located Jessica’s car, in a remote coastal area.
After her arrest, Jessica Smith quickly confessed.
She insisted that Isabella didn’t suffer, saying that she ‘just fell asleep peacefully, went into the water and was gone’.
Despite her confession, she later pleaded not guilty to the murder of Isabella and denied slashing the neck and wrists of Alana.
She entered an Alford plea to aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder – meaning that she recognised the prosecution had sufficient evidence to convict her, but she did not admit her guilt.
At court, Smith grinned as details of the case were read out for the jury. She was sentenced to life with a 40-year minimum term.
‘This is, without question, a profoundly tragic case in which the unthinkable has occurred,’ said Judge Julie E Frantz.
‘I hope all may continue to heal and go forward with your lives as best as you can.’
As Smith was led away, she avoided looking at her surviving daughter Alana – now living happily and safely with her dad.