Shirley Ann Smith was choked to death in her Salisbury, Maryland, home nine years ago by a man named Warren Lee Ballard. Her case has attracted the attention of TV One’s gripping documentary, Justice By Any Means, which features the stories of family members who have sought justice and avenged the murder of their loved ones. The episode titled, “Christine Miller Mathis,” will tell the moving story of a college student who finds out that her mother may have died in her sleep. But when apparent bruises on the body indicate that something more sinister occurred, this daughter launches her own investigation, which helps police capture a killer.
On a cold night in December, 2007, police received a phone call from a man reporting the death of his sister. When detectives arrived at the scene on Catherine Street in Salisbury, they found the body of a deceased black female. At first glance, it looked as if the woman had simply died in her sleep from natural causes. But a coroner’s autopsy report confirmed that the victim, identified as 51-year-old Shirley Ann Smith, was strangled to death.
TV One’s Justice By Any Means will show how Shirley Ann Smith’s 33-year-old daughter, Christine Miller Mathis, received a phone call from family members telling her to return home because her mother was dead. Mathis, who worked full time and attended criminal justice classes at the University of Wilmington, was shocked when she saw the condition of her mother’s body, according to WBOC-16.
“There weren’t any obvious signs of trauma. It almost looked like she laid down on the bed and passed away.” But Miller-Mathis had her suspicions. When she saw her mother’s body, it her appeared that she had been beaten. “Oh, my God,” Miller-Mathis said. “Somebody killed my mom.”
Now, Shirley Smith’s family and the police were trying to find out who could have possibly killed her. Christine Miller Mathis did not want her mother’s death to be unsolved and decided that it was up to her to start investigating her case. With her mother’s cell phone missing, Christine began her search with her cell phone records.
An interesting find in the cell phone records was an entry for a music download and a picture, which led to a person named Warren. In order to find the last name, Christine Miller Mathis put her detective skills to work and was able to uncover the man’s address and last name. Now, she needed a way to trap Warren Ballard.
With information obtained from Ballard’s family members, the police were able to set up a fake job interview to lure Warren Ballard to them. The plan worked and the suspect was arrested. In his possession, detectives found an SIM card, which linked back to Shirley Ann Smith’s cell phone account, according to Wilmington University’s news release.
Warren Ballard told police they got into a argument and it got physical after Shirley became enraged because she wanted drugs. He also stated that Shirley Ann Smith was alive and breathing when he left her apartment, according to Maryland court records.
“Warren Ballard made a series of statements to Detective Kaiser admitting that he and Ms. Smith had an altercation, he ‘did a choke hold on her,’ he ‘may have hit her in the mouth,’ and she ended up ‘laying on the bed’ but was still breathing when he ran out of the apartment. At Detective Kaiser’s suggestion, Petitioner wrote a letter of apology stating that he was ‘sorry that this could have happened,’ it was ‘an accident on [his] behalf,’ he ‘never knew that this was so serious,’ and he ‘still can’t believe that it happened.'”
For the murder of Shirley Ann Smith, Warren Lee Ballard was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison after his first conviction was overturned. It appears that Warren Ballard was released from prison. There appears to be no listing for him found at the Maryland Department of Corrections’ website. A Facebook page found for Warren Ballard shows posts as recent as 2015. A news article from 2016 states that a Warren Ballard of Princess George was arrested and charged with a knife assault that occurred after an argument. You can compare the photo found at WBOC to the Facebook photo found below.
To see how it all plays out, tune into Justice By Any Means this Monday at 10/9 p.m. Central on TV One.
[Image via Facebook]