Jefferson City kidnapping, murder suspect had prior criminal record

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JEFFERSON CITY, MO – Police say 39-year-old Leslie K. Austin kidnapped 33-year-old Danielle Smith and her ten-year-old daughter Tuesday evening and took them from Jefferson City, MO to Bond County, IL, all while being pursued by police. Austin is said to have shot Smith several times. Smith and her daughter were eventually able to escape the car near Greenville, IL. The chase later ended with Austin and an innocent bystander dead.

On Wednesday afternoon, people who live in the Jefferson City apartment complex where the kidnappings and shootings began were still stunned by the turn of events so close their home.

Shironda Debose, who just moved into the complex three days ago, said, “It’s scary, sad. All I know to do is pray for them.”

Lt. David Williams is a spokesman for Jefferson City Police. In regards to Smith’s gunshot wound, he said, “We believe her injuries occurred here in Jeff City. The daughter was not physically injured.”

A judge in Cole Country ordered a full order of protection against Austin just last week. It was in regard to alleged adult abuse. He was told not to abuse, stalk, molest, or communicate with Danielle Smith.

Lt. Williams said “We don’t have a lot of kidnapping here in Jefferson City. We do have our fair share of domestic situations that lead up to some type of disturbance.”

Court records showed Austin’s problems began in 2008 when an order of protection was issued against him. There were also charges of misdemeanor theft, assaulting a police officer, domestic assault, plus custody of a child was taken away from him.

Austin recently moved into a new apartment about a mile away from the kidnapping scene. One man who had met Austin found it hard to believe Austin would be involved in the crime spree.  The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, said, “Absolutely, comes as a great surprise…did not think he could do anything like that.”

A resident said Danielle Smith may have been picking up her daughter from a babysitter when the confrontation occurred with Austin.  Police said Austin and Smith were originally from Illinois.


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