Man formally charged in kidnapping of West Knoxville woman

Man formally charged in kidnapping of West Knoxville woman

Dennis Smith (source: McDowell County, N.C. Sheriff's Office) Dennis Smith (source: McDowell County, N.C. Sheriff's Office)
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The man accused of kidnapping a West Knoxville housekeeper and taking her to North Carolina was formally charged Thursday afternoon after allegedly admitting to the crime.

Dennis Richard Smith, 53, was charged with one count of kidnapping in federal court in Knoxville Thursday afternoon.

Previous story: Woman abducted from West Knoxville home found safe in North Carolina

According to the complaint, Smith admitted to breaking in to 7205 Sheffield Drive Wednesday afternoon, chasing his ex-wife Tamra Beam, 51, with a weapon, and taking her to North Carolina.

Beam's daughter said she made contact with her mother around 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. Beam said she wasn't hurt, but that Smith had a gun.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation says Beam and Smith were found at a rest area on Interstate 40 near Marion, N.C. around 6:40 a.m. Thursday morning.

Following the hearing, Smith was placed into federal custody. He could face a life sentence in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Order of protection

6 News discovered Beam had taken out a restraining order against Smith and earlier we spoke with an assistant da about the difference that order of protection can make.

Knox County Assistant District Attorney Janet Gurwitch says getting an order of protection is a good first step for someone in fear of domestic violence, but the problem is those orders aren't always honored. That's what happened with Beam and Smith.

"It doesn't keep you from being hurt if there's a bullet coming at you. It doesn't keep you from being, an order of protection doesn't make someone not stalk you if they're intending to stalk you," she said. "Tat's why we appreciate the justice center so much. Every victim needs to know the first line of safety is their own responsibility."

According to court records, Beam took out the order of protection against smith in December.

Smith has an extensive criminal history in Knox County prior to that. Smith pleaded guilty last June to harassment after sending up to 40 messages to Beam,  in some cases threatening to kill her.

Before that, his record includes assault and theft charges, among others. Gurwitch says even though an order of protection doesn't guarantee your safety by itself, it does bring harsher penalties when it's violated.

"If you have an order of protection and there's another assault or another crime committed, particularly assault, having that order of protection enhances that assault to an aggravated assault which is a felony. The same thing is true in this particular situation, in a kidnapping or stalking situation."

6 News Reporter SAMANTHA MANNING contributed to this report.
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