The manager of the Harmony House apartments died Monday when someone bludgeoned him on the head in with an ax, Coeur d’Alene police say.
William J. Smith, 69, was found dead in his room at 5 p.m. Monday.
“His death was caused by multiple blows to the head with an axlike instrument,” said Coeur d’Alene police Capt. Carl Bergh. “We don’t have a definite suspect and we don’t have a specific motive right now.”
The murder shocked Smith’s friends, who knew him as a talented stained-glass artist.
The death also has frightened tenants at the Harmony House.
“It’s hard for me to believe that somebody would do that to him,” said Bill Rine, who lives in the room next to Smith’s. “It scares the hell out of me.”
“If I had the cash, I’d get another apartment right now,” said another tenant who was afraid to give his name. “What if they come back and do it to me?”
Smith lived in a second-floor apartment at the Harmony House, E. 205 Indiana.
Peter Cooper, owner of the 22-room complex, went to Smith’s apartment Monday evening to pick up a rent check.
When Smith didn’t answer his door, Cooper opened the apartment with a pass key. He found Smith dead on the floor, according to a Coeur d’Alene police report.
Cooper called for help.
Bergh said Smith had been struck in the back of the head several times and had two other minor wounds elsewhere.
An “axlike” object was found near Smith’s body, Bergh said. Investigators do not believe the weapon belonged to Smith.
Cooper and several neighbors said the last time they had seen or spoken to Smith was the night before he was found dead. Cooper told police he had called Smith prior to visiting him, but got no answer.
Tenants on both sides of Smith’s apartment said they had not heard any loud noises from Smith’s room.
“There was nothing out of the ordinary,” Bill Rine said. “You’d think we would have heard something.”
There are no signs that Smith’s apartment was broken into, Bergh said.
“It’s just an incredible shock,” said Bob Healey, owner of Healey’s Stained Glass Studio where Smith sometimes worked. He said Smith was a quiet, humble man. “He was not someone physically strong enough to put up a fight.”
“He was like a friend and father and brother all rolled up in one,” Healey said. “We will grieve for a long, long time.”