Laurel County Murder Victim's Father Speaks Out

The story of Matthew Smith is like the prodigal son who didn't come home.

“No, we never suspected it. We always had the hope in our hearts that he had straightened his life up,” says Harold Smith of his son, Matthew, who was known to disappear for months, sometimes up to a year at a time.

Harold Smith and his wife received a horrifying phone last week call telling them that their son was dead.

He was killed nearly four years ago on Laurel River Road and Tony Hodge not only admitted to killing him over drug money but police told him that Hodge took the murder several terrible steps further, such as showing off Smith's dead body to others, and then stuffing him in a barrel.

‘In my mind I can picture Hodge and his friends and they're high on drugs and begin to shoot weapons in the barrel,” says Smith, then burning his body so badly that only fingernail size bones remained.

“To me it's a nightmare that I wish I could wake up from but I can't.”

Tony Hodge is already in prison serving a life sentence for a Madison County murder and he'll likely get 40 years for killing Smith. But Smith says both of those sentences are not enough.

Instead, Smith has written down his own recommended sentence for the judge to hear.

“Tony Hodge should be hung by his neck until dead and all meat and flesh rot from his bones," said Smith, reading from a notebook that he’s put all of his thoughts in since hearing about his son’s death.

He plans to give the notebook to the Laurel County judge when Hodge is sentenced next month.

Smith says what also troubles him is that his son's remains are now in FBI custody and he's not sure if they will ever be returned.

“We can have no funeral. And if they don't get any DNA we cannot even have the bones back.”

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  • by lisa Location: berea on Jan 29, 2008 at 09:56 AM
    I really want to say to the smith family that I will support any efforts made to change the laws of the injustice that has happen not only to your family but mine as well. For i am the daughter of margaret faye jackson and i am outraged at my local government and officials for not enforcing the maximum penality and i say to anyone that feels the punishment fits the crime they would need to share a day with either the smith family or my family and my children who have forever been changed and have lost their innocence to a cruel inhuman selfish monster who has no regard to human life or the lives of those he has forever strickened with grief and just what do you tell the young children of this nation that are just like mine and scared to death that maybe someday this man could possibly live next door to them and their children. And to those who believe that this man deserves the chance to be reformed at the taxpayers dollars especially mine and the smiths are nuts. Let them pay Not us
  • by tara Location: pa on Jan 10, 2008 at 03:20 PM
    I think that people who think we should feel sorry for the hodge family have no buisnes writing any comments how would you feel if he did this to someone in your family you would feel the same way we feel right now I said it once I'll say it again I do not fell sorry for mr hodge or his family they need to come out and say their sorry for what their son did and how bad they feel that it happened but they haven't so its hard to feel bad for them or have sympathy when they have none for us. pls. don't write comments if they are not positive or giving prayers or know our family.
  • by joanna Location: london kentucky on Jan 8, 2008 at 08:10 PM
    Tony hodge has a family to....smiths family isnt the only one's who has lost some body.....tony has been taken from his family too....tonys family loves and misses him just as much as smiths family misses him.
  • by Jennifer Location: ky on Jan 8, 2008 at 06:41 PM
    Matt was my friend because of Tony Hodge I will never get to see him laugh or even hear him say my name again.
  • by tara Location: pa on Jan 7, 2008 at 04:11 AM
    this might sound bad but i'm sure people can understand but I do not feel bad for the hodge family nor mr hodge himself he did something that is unimageinable and dispicable and maybe i'll forgive him and maybe I won't I understand that he was someones son maybe and thats a big maybe his parents are ashamed of what their son has done but I don't see any of them on here or on the news appoligizing to our family for what their son did so I don't feel sorry for them or offer my prayers to them when they have not offered their prayers to us. There is no reason on gods green earth for what mr. hodge did to my cousin he had no right to do what he did and for that I can not offer my prayers to him or his family at this time I am still to angry to forgive right now I only hope that I can forgive and I hope that the lord forgives me for not forgiving him or his family.
  • by Michelle Location: Michigan on Dec 31, 2007 at 05:03 PM
    Thanks to everyone who has offered prayers on behalf of Matt's family-we believe in prayer and the power of it. We are not without feeling for the Hodge family, I am sure they love their son and are grieved as well. Matt went astray. He was messing with some bad people-all drug related. We understand that. But the fact is this- it wasn't for Hodge to sentence him to death. It takes a certain kind of criminal to do what he did. It takes a certain degree of coldness and complete lack of conciense to dismember, burn, and finally throw the body into a pond. He did not just kill- it was the brutality of the murder that cries out for the death penalty here. This is not a human being that should ever be allowed to return to the public again.
  • by johnny Location: ky on Dec 30, 2007 at 04:10 AM
    i agree with steve the chair is what best suits this man he did not care to take a why should we care if he punishes in the chair.he is a evil man an does not deserve to live
  • by not given Location: london on Dec 28, 2007 at 09:47 PM
    Remember Tony's family in your prayers. He is someones child and brother too.
  • by Steve Location: Lexington on Dec 28, 2007 at 12:43 PM
    I agree with the father, this man deserves nothing but the death penalty. Since lethal injection is under question by the US Supreme Court, I think the first day of the legislative session next week, both houses should pass to go back to the chair (undisputed and worked well for years), then dust it off and start cookin'
  • by m Location: ky on Dec 28, 2007 at 10:01 AM
    Just a word of encouragement to the Smith family. I personally would not stop until all of Tony Hodge's friends who were involved in this crime get punished by law also. We all know he had help in killing Mr. Smith as well as the murder in Madison County. Why should he be locked up for a few years and no one else. My thoughts are the justice system is only giving Hodge a free vacation. Punishment never fits the crime anymore. I am sure the Smith family could get plenty of support from people who do not want murders walking the same path as their children. Prayers go out to the Smith family.
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