Update: Body Found in Maryland Identified as David Gipson Smith

February 22, 2018
By: Catherine Townsend

UPDATE (MARCH 23, 2018):

A body found in February has been positively identified as David Gipson Smith, who was reported missing last August after leaving his parents’ home in New Jersey.

David, 28, was reported missing from Howard County in August 2017. He had been visiting an acquaintance in Maryland at the time of his disappearance.

Hikers found his remains in Green Ridge State Forest in Flintstone, Maryland, on February 25, police said. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner identified him based on his dental records.

Read more: Patch.com

ORIGINAL STORY (FEBRUARY 22, 2018):

WOODBINE, MD — It’s been over six months since 28-year-old David Gipson Smith disappeared without a trace.

At around 8:30 A.M. on August 5, 2017, David left his parents’ home in Pilesgrove, New Jersey, to visit a female friend in Maryland. He never came back.

His parents, Doug and Julie Smith, are desperate for answers. On the morning he left, David told his parents that he was planning to move in with a coworker. They later discovered that he had gone to visit Bridgett Toulan, a woman he had met during a stint in rehab in 2016.

“He’s thoughtful, intelligent, and has a really terrific sense of humor,” Doug told CrimeFeed.He was not the perfect child, but he was someone you felt compelled to be around because of his kindness and gentle leadership.”

David’s parents are candid about the fact that their son has struggled with drug addiction in the past, and may have recently relapsed after breaking up with his girlfriend. But they insist that he never would have voluntarily vanished for this long.

Bridgett told David’s parents that after he arrived at her home in Catonsville on Saturday, David told her that he wanted to “detox.” But she said she told him that she had already made plans to attend a Roger Waters concert in Washington, D.C. that night — so she put David in touch with another friend, Nichole Kojzar. David had chatted with Nichole on Facebook, but never met her in person before that night.

Nichole would later tell Doug and Julie that her parents, who lived on the same property in a separate residence, decided that they did not want David to stay with them after all. So she claims that she drove him to a secluded wooded area near 2000 Woodbine Road on a piece of property owned by her uncle — and dropped him off.

David’s father tried texting him at 7:55 A.M. on Sunday morning. By then, the phone was dead — and, according to phone records, it has never been turned on again.

Over the next few days, David’s family grew increasingly alarmed. They began calling the last numbers on his phone records and went into his social-media accounts, where they saw the exchanges between David and the two women.

Cell phone records showed that a text was sent from David’s phone to Bridgett’s phone at 12:19 A.M. on August 6, and a text was returned from Bridgett’s phone at 12:21 A.M. At 12:36 A.M. a phone call — which lasted five minutes — was made to David’s phone from Bridgett’s phone. Bridgett would later tell David’s family via text that she called David after the concert to ask if he wanted her to pick him up, but that he declined. She said that after she left for the concert, she never saw him again.

At 4:10 A.M. David’s phone received a two-minute call from Nichole’s phone. This was the last time records show it having been used.

Eventually, Doug and Julie got in touch with Bridgett and Nichole to try to understand what had happened, and on Saturday, August 12, Nichole met them at the Woodbine Road property. She told Doug and Julie that she had spent time with David there on Sunday and dropped David off there on Monday, August 7.

Aerial map of Woodbine Road in Lisbon, Maryland [Google Maps]

Aerial map of Woodbine Road in Lisbon, Maryland [Google Maps]

Julie said that she and her husband were immediately confused by Nichole’s story, especially once they saw the property. “There was no structure on the property — just a few abandoned cars and junk,” she said. They also pointed out that David’s car was still parked at Nichole’s house. Why would their son leave his car at the home of someone he had met only once, and go to a remote area with no transportation, food, or water?

According to Julie, Nichole told them that David left his car at her house rather than parking it at the Woodbine property because the uncle “would be mad if he knew someone was staying there.” Nichole also claimed that when she came back to the piece of land on Wednesday, August 9, with a tub of supplies for David, she could not find him.

While Doug and Julie scoured the 22-acre grounds, Nichole called police. David was placed on the National Missing Person’s Website, and authorities began calling hospitals, morgues, and jails. They later flew in a helicopter with an infrared camera over the pond and property, brought in a boat, and scoured the area with a cadaver dog. David’s family and friends began a massive social-media blitz, and handed out thousands of flyers. But no trace of David has been found.

Photo by: Doug and Judy Smith

Doug and Judy Smith

David’s parents told CrimeFeed that they wonder if the police may have been focusing on the wrong location all this time, since no hard evidence has ever surfaced that indicates David was ever there.

Another opportunity for finding evidence may have been lost when the officers who responded to the scene asked Doug and Julie to take David’s car, which was still parked in Nichole’s driveway, home. Later, troopers from the couple’s community in Woodstown came to process David’s car but, according to Doug and Julie, they found no evidence of value.

Increasingly frustrated by the police response and what Julie referred to as the “blue wall of silence,” Doug and Julie did some of their own investigating. They were able to access car-insurance records, which showed that David’s car had been turned on — and moved — several times since he went missing.

David’s parents also believe that their son’s past drug use may have made police less likely to immediately investigate the possibility of foul play. “We are not naive,” Julie told CrimeFeed. “We know that he had his issues. But he knew he had a loving family to come back to. We’re very afraid of what could have happened to him.”

One painful possibility that his parents have considered is that David could have died of an accidental overdose. But his father Doug pointed out that David is six foot four and weighs 230 pounds, so if someone did panic and decide to get rid of his remains, that person “would have had to have help moving him.”

Howard County Police Department Spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn told CrimeFeed that there have been no new updates on the case. “We have found no evidence indicating foul play,” she wrote in an email.

David’s known friends, associates and family have been interviewed multiple times. There is no anticipated release of new information. The case file remains open.”

Police have stated that they are concerned for David’s well-being because of the length of his absence and his past history of drug and alcohol use. They have asked anyone with information about David to contact Howard County police at (410) 313-STOP or email HCPDcrimetips@howardcountymd.gov.

David’s family has set up a $10,000 reward for any information that will help lead to him. David’s parents have encouraged anyone who sees him to take a picture of him.

If you are in search of a missing person, make sure to enter their information into the database of the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

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