Clarence Otis Smith and the Bear River Camp Murders

In Episode 59 “The Sickle Slasher and the Reverend”, we took a look at the murders of two campers along the Bear River near Weimar, California. We’ve put together some photos and headlines that go along with the story.

July 12th, 1971 11:00 pm

On July 12th, Seventeen campers were relaxing along the Bear River near a sandy section known as the ‘Dog Bar.” What they experienced that night would change all of their lives forever.

By the next morning, Sheriff Wayne Brown and his deputies found three folks seriously injured and two dead. A massive manhunt took place but the police didn’t have much.

Archival News Footage

A Possible Trigger

Only weeks before, Clarence lost his son when the work truck he was driving fell off the road, 300 feet down into the canyon below. His boy, David, loved to go to work with his dad.

Clarence flees California

A week after the Bear River murders Clarence stopped showing up for work and left for Mexico. To the police and FBI it was a sure sign of his guilt. He was arrested in Mexico City in early July and handed over to authorities in Brownsville, Texas.

The Trial

Called one of the strangest trials to ever take place in California, it lasted two weeks and featured talks of affairs, demons and murder.

Not Everyone Believed

Some folks questioned whether or not it was Clarence Otis Smith. Many facts seemed to point to a young man named Reverend Everett T. Richardson being involved somehow.

The Reverend

Everett T. Richardson came into the Smith home seemingly out of thin air. Clarence Smith knew that he and his wife Georgina were having an affair, but as long as Richardson helped drive out the demons that infested his home, he didn’t mind.

The more Richardson spoke the guiltier he appeared. He’d been stealing from Smith and blamed it on ‘the hippies down by the river’. He put the thoughts into Smith’s head. Some believe he told Smith to run and then promptly called the police on him. Richardson also tried to marry Smith’s 15-year-old stepdaughter and was arrested before the trial for taking a stolen car over state lines. He was apprehended over 1300 miles away.

Way Out on a Limb

You’ll have to listen to Episode 59 to fully understand the next slide but the timing and location fit for Everett T. Richardson potentially being the Zodiac Killer.

Listen to Episode 59 (below) and find out what happened and what led up to the Sickle Slayings at the Bear River Campground. Had Clarence Otis Smith reached the end of his rope? Who was Reverend Everett T Richardson? Where did he come from? And could he of possibly been the Zodiac Killer? Probably not… but maybe.

Leave a Reply