5 in Family Shot to Death Before Suspect Goes Out of His Way to Save 6-Year-Old's Life

Rick Odell SmithThere's a sad story out of Manchester, Illinois today. Five people were shot and killed, including two little boys and a pregnant woman. But in an odd -- albeit fortunate -- twist, Rick Odell Smith, the man police say committed the murders, is also being credited with saving the life of a 6-year-old girl.

How does one make sense of two such disparate versions of this man? On the one hand, cops say Smith, who died in a police shootout, gunned down an entire family. On the other, he ran a little girl who'd been shot out to a neighbor to make sure she got medical care.

The girl, who was not related to Smith or to the five folks found dead in the Manchester apartment complex, suffered gunshot wounds in a shooting that claimed the lives of Brittney Luark, 23, and James Ralston, 29, and their two children, Nolan Ralston, 5, and Brantley Ralston, 1. Also killed was Brittney's grandmother, Jo Ann Sinclair, 67.

It would be easy to label their killer as a monster. He killed kids, people, KIDS!

I know the death of little Martin Richard in the Boston bombing was the hardest thing for me to take. Images of the bombing suspect dropping one of the backpacks with clear visibility of children haunted me for days. He had to know what he was doing to those babies. He had to know they couldn't be held responsible for anything, really. Kids are innocent creatures; they haven't been on this earth long enough to do anything wrong.

And the people who kill kids are pond scum.


And yet ...

I'm wondering. Could the deaths of those kids have been accidental? Was there some good to be found in this guy? Was he more than your garden variety kid-killing pond scum?

Is he a prime example of the layers that exist in human nature? The good mixed in with the bad? We talk about psychopaths in America, about people who are just pure evil. But maybe there is no such thing. Maybe there's something redeemable even in the worst of humanity.

Perhaps I'm putting too much emphasis on his rescue of this little girl. After all, she wouldn't have needed rescuing if she hadn't been shot.

But it's been a rough month, America. We've had the very fabric of our nation torn apart. We've had horrific tragedies in Boston. In Waco. In Manchester, Illinois.

We need some light in the dark.

Do you find yourself looking for the good in people even when it's hard to find?


Image via Illinois State Police

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LostS... LostSoul88

Why would someone shoot and kill children... I just don;t understand... Glad that monster is dead. 

death... deathbylove2006

What a monster. I wish he would of lived and been tortured to death. He deserved to feel pain like that family did.

JS0512 JS0512

Did you seriously just ask if there was some good to be found in this guy?  He was a piece of shit and I'm glad to hear he was killed.

nonmember avatar didi

He obviously had a beef with the entire family he killed, but not the little unrelated girl that got caught in the crossfire and that is why he helped her.

nonmember avatar Kristi

Very weird twist to this one. I guess he was sane/insane enough to know that his vendetta against the family didn't include anyone else. Bizarre.

Kaylen Diane Pickering

what i think happened was he had a beef with the family for some reasion and this is why he killed them all even the kids the little girlhowever was unrelated to the family so in his mind she was innocent of whatever was going onand that's why he saved her not because she was a child but because whatever was going on between him and that familyshe had no part of. 

Holly Weir

you suck at writing

nonmember avatar deedee

That was his Ex's Mother ,sister, sisters bf,and kids... He was looking for her and there child...the 6 yr old was part of the family it was the girls oldest child... they said he was mentally ill

Cassady Karla

he is no hero in my book or the lords book for that matter, glad to know he got what was coming to him in the end, this is awfull  that whole family 4 what ever beef he had did not deserve to go out like they had. just horrible

Rikki Leighanne

He has beef with the grandma's daughter... the 23 yr olds mother..he had a child with her and fighting for custidy... the 6 yr old was a daughter for the 23 yr old girls

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