At Thirteen, Eric Smith Viciously Beat, Strangled, Murdered, And Then Sexually Assaulted A Four Year Old Boy

On Tuesday, August 3, 1993, four-year-old Derrick Robie’s body was found deceased three blocks from his home in Savona, Steuben County, New York in a nearby park. State police immediately announced Robie’s death as a homicide because of the multiple body trauma that resulted in his murder. Police eventually arrest Eric Smith, a thirteen-year-old bully, for Robie’s murder and sentence him to 9 years to life in prison.

Photo of Derrick Robie found on Google Images

Derrick Robie of 33 Church Street was an “ordinary boy, just like everyone else’s kid,” according to his uncle. Derrick was the son of Dale and Doreen Robie, an avid tee-ball and soccer player, and had a younger brother, age 2.

Body defiled with tree limb

An autopsy on Derrick’s body revealed severe head injuries, including multiple skull fractures and cerebral swelling and contusions, extensive tearing and bleeding of tissues in the chest, a perforation (puncture) of the intestinal wall, and pinpoint hemorrhages on the neck, face, and eyes, indicative of asphyxiation.

More shockingly than his official cause of death though was the stick stuffed inside his rectum. According to the confession of Eric Smith, he had a “stick up his butt.”

The bully was himself bullied

Photo of Eric Smith at Trial found on Google Images

The arrest of thirteen-year-old Eric Smith was swift, and the teen was quickly charged with second degree murder of Derrick Robie. Prior to his arrest, Eric Smith lied to police saying that he never saw Robie on the day of the murder, but later, with the help of his family, admitted that he not only saw Derrick but also led him into a woody area to carry out his murder.

Later testimony from Eric Smith revealed that he himself was also bullied regularly, both at school and at his own home. Smith showed a very low self-esteem often telling himself that he wasn’t good enough for society and believed himself as unattractive.

“He was really withdrawn.”

Smith was a troubled kid by most accounts, being held back twice for failure to hit normal milestones at his age. His biological father refused to pay child support and Laurie Elliott, whom he often lived with, stated, “I sort of took him in, he didn’t have very many friends. I felt sorry for him. He was really withdrawn.”

Eric Smith fits the infamous Macdonald Triad (setting fires, hurting animals, and bed wetting)

Eric Smith also fit into the MacDonald Triad, a trifecta of three traits coined in 1963 by forensic psychiatrist J.M. McDonald often seen in future murderers that include animal cruelty, fire starting, and bedwetting.

In Eric Smith’s childhood he threw constant tantrums, banged his head repeatedly on the wall, had speech problems, became attracted to girls by the age of four, became a heavy smoker by age nine, and would often drool when speaking in normal conversation.

Eric also engrossed himself in the writings of Stephen King and Christopher Pike, whom wrote about themes of teenage violence, murder, and gore.

His mental disorder is to blame?

Later at the trial Stephen T. Herman, M.D. would testify in Eric’s defense that the teen suffered from Intermittent Explosive Disorder and Dysthymic Disorder (low-grade depression), “that rendered him unable to control his rage and unable to understand or appreciate the nature and consequences of his actions.

It’s worth also noting that his mother while pregnant with Eric Smith was on epilepsy and depression medications, which many doctors believe influenced his birth traits.

Will Eric Smith parole in 2021?

Image of Eric Smith in 2009 by WENY.com

Eric Smith is still in prison for the murder of Derrick Robie and has been denied parole several times. Smith claims he has changed and dreams of becoming a forensic psychologist so that he can “have an opportunity to help other people and not to commit crimes,” he told his parole board.

Since being locked up in prison, Eric Smith has learned carpentry and electrical work and also received his equivalent to a high school diploma.

Eric Smith said, “I know it was a serious crime. I’ve taken responsibility for it. I wish I had never committed this crime. I do regret it. I have remorse for the victim and the victim’s family.”

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  • Born in 1972, so I am not a product of the helicopter parenting system, but letting a 4 year walk 3 blocks ? Can most 4 years find the bathroom in their own house at 4 ? Ridiculous. The mother deserved shade. Everyone is responsible for their own safety/ childs safety. Zero excuses, May be if we shamed more victims, we would have less victims. If parents looked after their kids, like they do their phone, we would have no crime. The suspect looks straight out of central casting…. Was he cos playing ” chucky” ???

    • Now a days, no. But its easy to point fingures as we forget that not to long ago fear of bad things wasnt a constant as it is now. (media is everywhere and constant with technology) Kids did run the streets and play unsupervised. It was normal. I survived it as did so many. Blaming a parent who lost a child and already regrets trusting her community is cruel.

      • Yes I remember always running the streets in the early 80’s but letting a 4 year old walk all alone REALLY?? My daughter is in college and I still try to reinforce the buddy system.
        I think they should let him be paroled he was so young when it happened! At least let him go home and give him an ankle bracelet. He should get a chance in life as an adult.
        My brother was murdered. He was shot 5 times in the genitals and his killer got 7 years for it! Oh and he was paroled after 3!!! Just blows my mind this world we live in…

      • Were you 4 yrs old & running the streets alone for 4 football fields?
        We ran around too when younger. But NEVER at 4 & NEVER w/out other kids w/us!
        Sorry. Derrick’s mom FAILED him.

    • There were no phones back in 1993. It was different time. Yeah let’s blame the victims. Great idea. Stupid as hell.

      • She’s holding mom partially responsible. I fully agree!
        In the show I just saw on kids that kill, the mother stated matter of factly, “He wanted to go. We’d done this before. He knew the way & walk. How was I to think he wouldn’t make a walk just 400 yards up the road on the same side of the street?”
        UM, HELLO??? THAT’S 4 FOOTBALL FIELDS MOM!!! For a 4 YEAR OLD!!!
        Yeah, negligence. Big time! I don’t care what year it was, or how ‘safe’ you think things are!
        She shares the blame w/the psycho killer.
        Period!

    • He was found 3 blocks away.
      The park Derrick was walking to, was actually 400 YARDS AWAY!!! 4 FOOTBALL FIELDS!!!
      Big FAIL ‘mom’. MAJOR!
      On the show I just saw, she made it sound so matter of fact….Like yeah, how was she to think he wouldn’t have a problem? Just a hop/skip/jump up the road!
      Freaking 4 yrs old!!! HELLO?

  • To answer your question Jon. If it was “better” that it was a young teenager, I would agree in a weird way, just because I think an adult would have done worse things, not that murder isn’t one of the worst things to do but as an adult I feel you can cause more pain and suffering. Which is so sad. Wow, this ones a doozy. But you guys did a great job. Keep doing what your doing! Love you guys! (All three of you! Lol)

  • I clearly remember this horrible murder by this 13 year-old boy. Is it better that it was a child that committed this murder? Well, it was clear that this person, Eric Smith, had problems from the beginning of his youth and his problems were not going to go away on their own. So how is it any different than an adult who killed this innocent 4 year-old Derrick Robie? Eric Smith could have done this 5 years later, and made him an adult, or not been caught at age 13 and got away with it. It’s the heart that is evil, not the age of the predator. It seems to me that people who have this state of mind from the beginning will have this mind when they die. Why? Because murderers and rapists are sociopaths and cannot feel the pain of another, only the pain that they received. Keep him in prison.

  • I listened to this podcast the other day. I have to say that I am surprised by your thoughts that he should be let out of prison. You stated that he was “only 13” and didn’t understand the long term consequences. I do think a 13 year old knows right from wrong . . . certainly to know all the terrible things he did was wrong. You stated he was killing animals at a young age. This is a true sign of a person who will elevated to killing humans. If you look at prior serial killers, they all started with killing animals, regardless of their age, and continued to do so into adulthood. Being in prison, I’m sure he has not had anger management classes. To have these thoughts and actions at 13 years old, I cannot imagine what thoughts he would have as an adult. My heart goes out to Derrik’s family . . . I’m sure his mother will blame herself for all her days. As parents, sometimes we make split decisions and regret them later.

  • He doesnt appear sorry for the murder. He appears to be sorry he got caught. He is seriously lacking real emotion. It looks fake for sympathy.

  • At the end of the day he was just a kid, I’m absolutely not saying that excuses his actions. but i see people here arguing whether or not he knew it was wrong, of course he did but you also need to understand that he likely had no grasp on the gravity of his actions. still I’m not saying it was even maybe close to a little bit okay, it wasn’t. but that doesn’t mean he’s still a monster. as an example when i was that young i remember watching “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and i asked my mom “we’ve got a million dollars right?” i very well understood that money held value, but beyond that i was clueless, surly if they can offer to give it way every week it must not be that big a deal right? being that young I’m certain he knew full well what he was doing was wrong, but i feel he also wasn’t capable of understanding just how horribly wrong it was. take yourself back to being that young, for me at least most the time i knew full well what i should and shouldn’t have been doing but it never went farther than that i didn’t understand WHY i wasn’t suppose to be doing it. for example when i was that young i had a tendency to just unzip my pants and pee in full view of everybody i remember doing it, i remember knowing i was gonna get in trouble. i was a kid, i was dumb as hell. Children are like little sociopath’s, they don’t fully understand social and moral norms. this kid was deeply disturbed there is no doubt about that, but i feel its not really able to be fully pinned on him, evil isn’t born, he couldn’t fully grasp the extent of what he was doing. he was clearly troubled and that negativity lead to a very dark and disturbing curiosity on that day and he sadly followed through with it. but this is not on the same level as someone like Albert Fish, a man who murdered, violated, and then cannibalized a child. he was a grown man he knew full well what he was doing he was deriving a twisted and grotesque pleasure in violating the innocence of another human being. this kid did what he did out of a horrific morbid curiosity, not to fulfill some dark desire. what he did was horrendous cold and impersonal. If he has been rehabilitated than he has every right to be set free
    so many people here seem to stick to this idea that no one is ever able to change.

  • Eric’s attempt to express remorse sounds like it was prompted by coaching from his attorney. Unfortunately, I don’t think Eric stood a chance, given his extensive history of childhood trauma.

  • Boy this is a tough one! There are all kinds of blame. Mom for letting a five year old walk alone!
    It sounds like Eric Smith also had suffered hurt and being bullied, hints of sexual assault on him by step father, and no help from real father, or parents! By age 13 he was frustrated, pent up and angry, so took it out on a younger, helpless, defenseless victim!
    Eric Smith definitely fell through the cracks as it was back then, and was failed by adults who were supposed to help him and keep him safe!
    At the same time it is so hard to see the photos of the precious, beautiful boy, Derrick Robie who was cruelly and viciously murdered by an enraged, pent up animal! Which by that point Eric Smith had become, due to circumstances he had endured leading up to that fateful day!
    No telling if Eric Smith is repented today, I don’t know if prison is really the best rehab for that.
    I think both boys were failed by adults in charge who were responsible for each of them to keep both of them safe from what ever the circumstances were.
    Mom failed on her end by allowing a five year old to walk alone because she couldn’t handle an 18 month old baby!
    Eric Smith was failed by everyone, parents, teachers, camp counselors, and other bullies, and obviously copied what he saw and what was done to him by the stepfather. He had been molested and no one helped him or came to his aid, so in a 13 year old’s mind why should, or would anybody help, or save five year old Derrick Robie from him?

    • Bessie you did not listen it was not a 5 year old it was a 4 year old a big difference between 4 and five the average boy grows 2 inches and 12 pounds he was so tiny Eric wanted watched and waited for the day when he could torture some BABY like Derrick! These shrinks saying he will never kill again are so full of shit I can smell it!

  • Look this is an animal, I was bullied in school from kindergarten to my senior year, I was bullied both at home and school. I was abused by my mother AND I NEVER LIKED KILLING BUGS ANIMALS AND NEVER COULD HARM A HUMAN. SO I call BULL SHIT on “he is remorseful” if this animal gets out of prison he will kill again and again! I pray the Robie family continues fighting his parole for ever and ever.

    • I’m w/you. I had a very difficult childhood, both at home & in school. A loner a lot, as well. It was just easier than constantly being made fun of &/or rejected. My father berated & beat me & my mother regularly, too. Almost daily! Mean drunk!
      The dog I grew up with actually saved my sanity & life! Too bad we didn’t get him till I was already an emotional basket case in 5th grade. Better late than never, though.
      Before that I had hamsters I adored & gold fish I was jealous of, b/c their lives were short & simple.
      I cried like a baby when my fish & hamsters died. I would never have hurt them!
      It took over 2 years for me to get over losing my fur savior at 21.
      I’ve always rescued & helped animals. Even now, well into ‘mature’ adulthood.
      Eric looks very angry in that pic. And he looked that way on the TV show I just watched about kids who kill. Right from his arrest & all through the trial. Very hateful, angry face. He obviously had issues that were not addressed by his parents, or teachers.
      Today he says he’s changed, but IDK. If he didn’t torture & kill animals & didn’t do the same to Derrick & then mutilate his corpse w/that stick, I MAY believe he deserved a chance at parole w/serious psychotherapy & an ankle bracelet for years. On top of sex offender registry. But I highly doubt he’s had the mental health care he desperately needs, in prison. So…. sorry. I vote no.
      His own sister said once she had her first child, that was a game changer for her. Even she wouldn’t go visit her brother in prison for a very long time. And would never think of bringing her kid(s). The thought of what he did to a child, was unbearable for her!
      Thankfully, Derrick has been in heaven all this time. But he too, was failed by his mom. I don’t care how ‘safe’ a neighborhood you live in, or what year it was. The Park was 400 yards away!!! Hello??? That’s 4 Football Fields you’re letting your 4YO CHILD walk alone??? Let your other fussy kid scream all the way there! But take your 4YO to that park!!!
      Sorry mom, you share that blame w/the psycho killer.

      • “His own sister said once she had her first child, that was a game changer for her. Even she would go visit her brother in prison for a very long time, and would never take her kid(s). The thought of what he did to a child, was unbearable for her.”

        Joelle, could you please elaborate a little about the above statement from the sister. Is this statement from the older sister, or the younger sister? How do you know this was said? Was this said to you, from her personally?

        Thanks in advance

  • Can we just stop making excuses for stone cold killers?
    Sickening how many ‘professionals’ do that now & try to garner sympathy for the devil. SMH
    Plenty of us grew up w/horrid childhoods & didn’t torture animals & kill children.
    Eric didn’t just kill this innocent child. He sexually abused his dead corpse after, to the point of perforating his intestine!
    He was filled w/RAGE. As his animal torture & kills were a RED FLAG to!
    Hello Jeffrey Dahmer!

  • If he gets released, he WILL kill again. His act of crime seems habitual considering the animals in the back yard and the neighbors cat. It wasn’t too long before he knowingly lied to and lured a 4 year old to a “Short Cut” to the campsite only to be strangled and beaten to death. Then told the police he seen the boy they were looking for, without confessing right away. Just that alone was a cry for attention. I think those who keep denying his parole know what’s best. And he’s still young in 2021, what? Like 28?? I just know he’s thirsty to get his hands on some women.

    • “And he’s still young in 2021, what? Like 28??”

      Who are you referring to? Eric? If so; Eric was born in January 1980, He’s currently 41yrs old.

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