Mystery, anger surround death of woman last seen in cab - WKRN News 2

Mystery, anger surround death of woman last seen in cab

Posted: Updated: Sep 26, 2013 7:10 AM
Livia Smith was found dead in February 2013. Livia Smith was found dead in February 2013.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -

Her life was cut short in a manner almost unspeakable.

Livia Smith, a 32-year-old makeup artist, went out with a close female friend last February 20 for a few drinks.  She hailed a cab alone around 2 a.m.  She was found dead within sight of her east Nashville home just a few hours later.

"She was just such a sunny golden child," Livia's mother, Rachel Black, told News 2 in the days after her daughter's death.

Like her son, Ian Struthers, and Smith's many friends, Black still struggles and hopes for answers as to what happened after Livia got in that cab.

Now, more than seven months later, investigators can't tell them much for certain.

"We have gone through a thousand scenarios of what could have happened," Metro police officer Don Davidson told News 2. "We just don't know exactly what did happen."

Davidson and colleague Matt Filter have done the bulk of investigating Smith's death.

"We know everything she did in the days before her death, but we just can't account for the two hours after she got in that cab," said Det. Filter.

Police and family members both say that Smith had been at some establishments in the popular Five Points area of east Nashville with one of her closest female friends.

The two ended up at 3 Crow Bar before Smith decided to head home in cab.  She had driven her own car to the area. 

Several witnesses said they watched Smith hail a "yellow-looking cab" outside the bar before getting in the van-like vehicle. 

Two hours later, a resident on the street where Smith lived called police to say that he saw something in the road.

Not long after that the first investigators arrived on the scene and found the woman's body.

Smith somehow had died within a few hundred yards of her home.

"Leaving someone on the side of the road like an animal, it's evil," said Struthers, Livia's only sibling.

Investigators are certain the yellow, van-like cab brought Smith to where her body was found.  What happened next is where theories begin.

Perhaps the most plausible, according to investigators, is that Smith may have wanted to quickly get out of the cab while it was still moving, fearing possibly robbery or sexual assault.

"It looked like she just came right out of the van and landed straight back on her head. She was face up with her arms above her head," explained Davidson, who has decades of experience reconstructing accidents.

He said an autopsy report was consistent stating "she struck her head on the pavement."

Police focused on finding the cab driver, suspecting the cabbie was the last person to see her alive.

"If we could find the driver of the cab, it would bust this case wide open," Filter said.

However, area cab drivers and companies have no record of Smith ever taking a cab that night. The majority of the drivers that police spoke to said they knew nothing about it.

"A lot of this boils down to these cab companies not keeping really good records," Filter continued.

Police and cab companies alike say it's easy for taxi drivers not to record their fares. A lack of GPS devices, security cameras and the act of not logging each ride contribute to the ease.

Learning there is no record or trail of her cab ride upset relatives. Smith's family is angered by the situation, yearning for answers in their loved one's death.

"It's going to drive me crazy until we find who is responsible for this," her brother told News 2.

Metro police believe someone out there knows what happened that night, and that they just haven't come forward yet.

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