Denita Smith, Shannon Crawley: 'Dateline NBC' Spotlights Durham, North Carolina, Killer Who Was Obsessed With Police Officer Jermeir Stroud

Denita Smith and the case of Shannon Crawley will be spotlighted on tonight's episode of Dateline NBC. The 25-year-old grad student from Durham, North Carolina, was shot and killed because Shannon Crawley grew jealous of Denita's relationship with a Greensboro police officer named Jermeir Stroud.

Authorities say Smith knew nothing about her fiancé's lover and never once suspected that her life was in danger. Shannon Crawley was eventually arrested and charged with her murder. Today, Shannon Crawley still resides in a North Carolina correctional facility. Jermeir Stroud eventually moved away and married another woman. They have a child together. In tonight's episode, "Internal Affairs," Dateline NBC will speak to members of the family, police investigators, and crime experts who will lend their opinion on the case.


By all accounts, Denita Smith was a beautiful African-American woman who many describe as intelligent and "on top of her game." An aspiring photojournalist, Denita had planned to marry Jermeir Stroud, a man who was also described as intelligent and charming. Viewers will hear on Dateline NBC tonight that Denita and Jermeir were the power couple, the envy of the quaint town of Durham.

It seemed that Denita Monique Smith had everything going in her favor, but behind the scenes, investigators learned that her fiancé, Jermeir, had a secret. He was having sex with another beautiful woman named Shannon Crawley, a local 911 dispatcher at the same police department where Jermeir worked. While Denita Smith was trying to make life perfect for them, Shannon Crawley was plotting a way to take Jermeir from Denita. It all came to a head when Shannon Crawley saw Denita with Jermeir for the first time as they walked into the church hand in hand. It was then that Shannon Crawley decided that she wanted her rival dead.

Dateline NBC will retrace just how Denita Smith was found lying unconscious at the bottom of the stairs at an apartment complex in January 2007. At first, it appeared that the young woman had taken a nasty fall, but when investigators arrived on the scene, they found that the victim had a gunshot wound to the back of the head. She had been shot execution style. Also strewn about the scene were her purse, keys, shoes, and cell phone.


Detectives interviewed as many people as possible to see if anyone had seen what happened, but no one had. A few people remembered hearing what sounded like a big bang but admitted that it sounded more like two garbage tops pounding together rather than a gun blast. However, a maintenance man at the building had reported to 911 that he believed there were gunshots being fired. He also told officers that he saw a black woman crying and running away from the building. The woman was driving a Ford Explorer.

Police didn't find Denita's body when they came out the first time because police searched one building, not knowing that Denita was lying dead at the back of an opposite building. Law enforcement officials eventually learned from Denita's fiancee, Jermeir Stroud, that he had been having problems with a woman named Shannon Crawley. They were eventually able to connect the Ford Explorer to Shannon, according to WRAL.

Investigators told Dateline NBC that Shannon Crawley had become so obsessed with Jermeir and so enraged with Denita, that she obtained a gun and waited for her to leave her apartment. When Denita finally emerged from her apartment, Shannon Crawley fired two shot, with one hitting Denita dead center in the back of the head.


Denita Smith's devastated family members couldn't believe that it had all ended this way. But, they were able to get some measure of justice when Shannon Crawley was finally convicted in her death. As for Jermeir Stroud, investigators say that he had no part in Shannon's plan to kill Denita. But, they all agree that if he hadn't had the affair with Shannon, Denita would be alive today. To get a more in-depth look at the police investigation, tune into Dateline NBC tonight at 9/8 central.

[Image via RIP Denita Smith/Facebook]