true crime

Katrina was bashed to death. Then her husband sent a chilling text message to her phone.

On October 23, 2012, a 44-year-old Todd Smith reported his 30-year-old wife Katrina missing.

He told police in Illinois that she’d gone shopping and hadn’t returned. A desperate search for Katrina began, and Todd made emotional pleas on television every day, begging for her safe return.

katrina smith murder
Katrina and Todd Smith. Image via Crime Watch Daily.

"I just want her to come home or call or let us know she's safe. Katrina, please," he said.

The last text Todd had sent Katrina read, "Sweet dreams, I love you".

When Katrina's abandoned car was found and, three weeks later, her body, Todd's lies would unravel and he would be sentenced to 55 years in prison for her murder.

The case was detailed on a recent episode of US show Crime Watch Daily.

Katrina Smith was murdered by her estranged husband. Image via Facebook.

Earlier in the month she went missing, Katrina had moved into her own apartment and had begun an affair with a work colleague.

Unbeknownst to her, Todd had installed a GPS tracking device to the bottom of her car and had been watching her every move.

Police found traces of Katrina's blood in the boot of her car, and on the steering wheel and the driver's seat. They also found her wallet and her mobile phone - with the final text from Todd - nearby.

Investigators discovered Todd had been tracking Katrina's every move via a GPS device on her car. Image via Facebook.

When 30-year-old Katrina's body was found by a fisherman in a river, it was so decomposed it had to be identified using dental records. Her death was determined to be by blunt-force trauma.

Investigators had already began suspecting Todd - they found an aluminium baseball bat that had traces of Katrina's blood on it. They also discovered he had been tracking her movements and following her.

He was soon arrested and charged with his wife's murder.

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Todd was charged with Katrina's murder. Image via Winnebago County Sheriff's Department.

Police believe on the day she was murdered, Katrina returned to the home she formerly shared with Todd - her husband of seven years - and told him she wanted a divorce.

Angry that his marriage was ending, Todd struck his estranged wife 24 times with the baseball bat, including seven fatal blows to her head, police say.

He then drove her body to the river in her own car, sent her the haunting text telling her he loved her to cover his tracks, and cleaned the car and the crime scene.

He then began his chilling role as a grieving husband, appearing on television every day during her disappearance.

LISTEN: Mamamia's True Crime podcast discusses the murder of Sallie-Anne Huckstepp, the "woman who knew too much".

In January of this year, an Illinois court found Todd, now 49, guilty of Katrina's murder. In March, he was handed a 55-year sentence, along with four extra years for concealment.

He still maintains his innocence.

"All you had to do was walk away and let Katrina live the life she deserved, but out of greed and jealousy and rage, you chose to take her precious life," Katrina's mum, Vikki Nalevac, told Todd in court.

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves memories that not even you can steal."

If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT.