An American family of three, who lived in the Republic of Georgia, was found dead after an alleged altercation with a disgruntled shepherd in Khada Gorge in the northwestern part of the country.
The bodies of Ryan Smith and Lora Smith, both in their early 40s, and their 4-year old son, Caleb, were found last Friday, after they were killed on July 4, the Interior Ministry of Georgia said in a press briefing.
After a missing-person report, the police initiated a search for the family and recovered a car with personal belongings in Tskere village, where the Smiths had no means of communication.
Later the same day, law enforcement found the body of Lora Smith with no traces of violence in a ravine near a waterfall.
On July 7, officers discovered the body of Ryan Smith.
After an autopsy pointed to a gunshot wound as the cause of the man’s death, a 19-year-old shepherd, whom authorities identify only as M.K., was arrested. He later confessed to shooting and killing Ryan Smith and his son and led detectives to the body of the toddler.
Authorities suspect that the shepherd shot dead Ryan Smith and the young boy after an argument. Lora Smith fled in fear and slipped into a gully, the Ministry said.
The perpetrator faces charges of premediated murder and, if deemed mentally fit, could be sentenced to life in prison.
The Smiths held dual citizenship in the U.S. and Georgia, where they had lived for 10 years.
According to their now commemorated Facebook pages, Ryan Smith hailed from San Diego, California, and Lora Smith was from Phoenix, Arizona. They lived in Marneuli, a small town of 20,000 residents in southeastern Georgia.
In the country, which straddles a stretch of land between Europe and Asia, Ryan Smith launched and led reWoven, a boutique crafts company that employees local women to create traditional Caucasian rugs.
In a post on the company’s website, he wrote that he first became fascinated with the ancient craft of weaving rugs in Baku, Azerbaijan, where he commenced a small textile project. “Unforeseen circumstances,” however, forced him to return to his homeland “prematurely” in 2005.
Later after a stint in the U.S., where he obtained a degree and married, Ryan Smith returned to the region, settling in Georgia with his wife, who taught English through a government initiative.
He explored several business possibilities before starting reWoven, whose last Facebook post dates back to late June and showcases a pattern in the making.