ROCKY FACE, Ga. — The man charged with shooting a 61-year-old man and a 14-year-old girl and then burning their bodies was a close friend of the older victim and called him “uncle,” friends said Sunday.
Julius Wayne Smith, of Rocky Face, and Krista Denae Babb, of Chatsworth, Ga., were found dead about 11:30 a.m. Saturday in Smith’s burning home at 113 Honeybee Way in western Whitfield County, Sheriff Scott Chitwood said. They had been shot before the house was set ablaze, he said.
Sheriff’s office investigators and Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents spent all day Saturday and most of the night gathering evidence at the home. They returned Sunday afternoon for another sweep of the home and yard.
Daniel Lloyd Densmore, 32, of Tunnel Hill, was questioned Saturday night and was charged Sunday with two counts of felony murder, arson, armed robbery and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Investigators found some of Smith’s belongings at Densmore’s home and believe robbery was the motive.
Chitwood said Krista was “a close friend” of Smith and often spent time with him.
She came to the home earlier Saturday and investigators believe Densmore didn’t know she was there.
“It’s not unusual for her to come over and visit,” Chitwood said. “We don’t have any reason to believe anything inappropriate was going on.”
Whitfield County Coroner Bobbie Dixon described the scene Saturday as “chaos.”
She said Krista was found in the living room near the bedroom and Smith was in the kitchen.
Honeybee Way is a gravel lane with three small gray houses just off busy Mount Vernon Road. As news of the homicides spread, cars slowed to watch investigators carry out brown paper bags containing evidence.
Smith owned all three homes on Honeybee Way and lived in the middle one, still draped with yellow crime-scene tape on Sunday. Although investigators said the fire caused damage, the only sign outside was blackened windows.
No one appeared to be home in the other two houses Sunday.
Friends, relatives and neighbors in the quiet Rocky Face community expressed shock and horror Sunday at the deaths, the first homicides in Whitfield County in more than a year.
Sandy Hayes lives three houses down on the opposite side of the road, just across from the future Westside Park and Miracle Field.
“This has just shocked all of us, really scared us,” said Hayes. “Nothing goes on over here. We never have any problems.”
She knows Smith, Hayes said, but not well. She saw him last week at Fred’s with his young granddaughter.
“It’s awful, just horrible,” she said.
Friends and family gathered in her yard were relieved to hear someone had been arrested.
Smith’s brother-in-law, Robert Brock, stopped by to talk to investigators Sunday. He said Smith loved to spend time with his daughter and grandchildren, especially his granddaughter. She is 11 or 12.
“He thought the world of that girl,” Brock said.
Smith’s brother, Gerald Smith, owns a Value Rated Body Shop just across the road from Honeybee Way. He declined to comment about his brother when reached by phone.
Jacob Lockhart, 16, also stopped at Hayes’ home. He said Smith was a close friend of his father’s and would often stop by their body shop to talk.
“He was a quiet old man, a good person who had a story for everything,” Lockhart said.
“He’s the closest thing to an uncle I ever had,” he said. “He doesn’t deserve this; he’s just an old man who likes to tell stories.”
But his mouth dropped open in disbelief when he heard Densmore had been charged with the slayings.
“No way. They were good friends. They were always together. They bought and sold cars and always worked together,” he said. “Danny’s not that type of person.”
Densmore had rented the third house on Honeybee Way and knew Smith well, Lockhart said. Chitwood confirmed that Densmore recently had moved out of the rental property.
‘Not the Danny I Know’
Lisa Martinez, who worked with Densmore at the Choo Choo Truck Wash just off Interstate 75 in Ringgold, began to cry when she learned he had been charged with murder.
“That’s not the Danny I know; they were real close, and he always called him uncle,” Martinez said, sitting behind the register at the truck wash Sunday afternoon.
Sheriff’s investigators said that, as far as they know, Smith and Densmore were not blood relatives.
Daniel Densmore was arrested Sunday in Whitfield County ,Ga., and charged in the deaths Rocky Face resident Julius "Wayne" Smith and his guest, a 14-year-old girl from Murray County, Ga. They were shot and Smith's house was set afire. Police believe the motive was robbery.
Martinez said Densmore has worked at the truck wash for about a year. He was always dependable and a hard worker, she said. He wasn’t violent and never lost his temper, even when truckers became impatient and cursed him. He loved to cut up, laugh and joke.
“I never saw him mad,” she said.
Densmore never expressed any kind of anger toward Smith and always spoke well of him, she said.
Densmore had a son who was only a few weeks old and lived with the baby’s mother in Tunnel Hill. The last time they talked, Densmore had described how his baby was growing and doing well. He was so excited to be a father, she said.
“It’s crazy. It’s crazy. I can’t believe it,” she repeated more than 10 times in a few minutes. She wiped away tears and stubbed her cigarette in an ash tray as she talked.
“I find it very, very hard to believe Danny did this,” she added.
Smith and Babb’s bodies have been sent to the crime lab for autopsies.
Densmore has no convictions for violent crimes, records show, but he was arrested on a charge of writing bad checks in 2008 and on a charge of first-degree forgery in 2008.
Chitwood said Densmore likely will make his first court appearance Tuesday.
Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...