Some real-life figures walk straight into the history books. Sixteen years after he was freed from death row, Jay C. Smith has tried to write his way out of a true-crime best-seller.
Smith, 80, is the former Upper Merion High School principal whose Jekyll-and-Hyde downfall became the stuff of suburban legend.
A lifelong educator and Army Reserve colonel, he was caught in 1978 with drugs, illegal guns and pornography. He was convicted in a string of Sears robberies, and then found guilty of killing Upper Merion teacher Susan Reinert and her children.
Smith is free because the state Supreme Court in 1992 dismissed his murder conviction and forbade a retrial, ruling that state police had concealed evidence.
Some have compared Smith to O.J. Simpson, believing Smith was a killer lucky to be walking free. So he vanished into obscurity in Northeastern Pennsylvania.