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A Contemporary Hunger for Human Flesh
Nearly two years after the bizarre slaying of a vagrant, a 36-year old Connecticut man has been found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to a maximum-security psychiatric hospital indefinitely. Tyree Lincoln Smith was arrested was arrested in Florida after the mutilated and partially decomposed body of Angel Gonzalez was found in a vacant house in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The victim had been killed with an axe and had his one of his eyes and part of his brain removed.
According to testimony presented at his trial, Smith's cousin, Nicole Rabb, stated that Smith had arrived at her house on December 15, 2011. He then told her that he "wanted to get blood on his hands" before going to the abandoned house where Gonzalez's body was later found. He said that he had developed a craving for blood after eating a rare steak. On the following day, she saw him with blood on his hands, pants, and an axe. He then told her that he had "gotten his blood" and that he had killed Gonzalez with the ax and then collected the man's eyes and brain to be eaten in a cemetery. He reportedly said the eye, "tasted like an oyster" and that he drank sake after consuming the body parts. Nicole Rabb contacted Bridgeport police and reported her cousin, though police were only able to find the bloody axe and an empty bottle of sake.
Several weeks later, Smith was found in a pharmacy bleeding from his wrist after he had cut himself with a box cutter. He was treated and released from a mental health facility in Westport, Connecticut before returning to Florida on a Greyhound bus. Federal and state law enforcement officers located Smith in a woman's apartment and he was arrested on January 23, 2012 after the body was found. Public defender Joseph Bruckman based Smith's defense on the testimony of Yale University psychiatrist Dr. Reena Kapoor. In her testimony, Dr. Kapoor stated that Smith had suffered from psychotic episodes since childhood, including hearing voices telling him to kill people. She also stated that the voices ordered him to eat the victim's brain to get a better understanding of human nature and the eyes so that he could "see into the spirit realm." His preoccupation with eating human flesh remained strong even after his arrest and he even offered to eat Dr. Kapoor.
According to Smith in a videotaped statement presented to the court, he had been sleeping on the porch of the abandoned house where he had once lived when he was awakened by Gonzalez who invited him inside. He then beat Gonzalez on the head and face with the axe. The force of the blows were so severe that he was able to remove the eye and part of the brain. He went to the Lakeview Cemetery so that he could eat the brain and eye on the grave of a male cousin. He then went to a Subway restaurant for a sandwich.
After weighing the evidence and deliberating for only an hour, the three-judge panel declared that Smith was a danger to himself and others if released and ordered him detained indefinitely. Prior to their announcing their decision, Smith surprised the courtroom by apologizing for the murder. "I'm really sorry for what I did, that I couldn't be myself," Smith told the judges. "It really had nothing to do with the other person." The victim's sister-in-law, Talitha Frazier, burst into tears upon hearing Smith's apology. "We waited two years to hear Tyree say he was sorry," she told reporters. "What he said today caught me off guard, but I feel he meant what he said."