Who Was Dana Smithers?

Pennsylvania resident Dana Smithers disappeared in May 2022. The remains of the 45-year-old mother of three were found around a year later, near where she lived, The Independent reported. The parents of Bryan Kohberger — accused of brutally murdering four University of Idaho students — were reportedly subpoenaed to give grand jury testimony regarding their son's possible connection to the case. Kohberger lived in the area when Smithers went missing, but he reportedly has an alibi for the night she was last seen.

The nature of Kohberger's parents' possible testimony regarding Smithers' death is unclear, and police are still investigating a possible connection between Smithers' disappearance and the quadruple Idaho murders as of May 2023 (per the Daily Mail). Regardless, what happened to Smithers on the night she disappeared remains a mystery. As of this report, her cause of death was unannounced, and the investigations into her disappearance and the circumstances of her death were ongoing.

Kohberger, a graduate student at Washington State University in Washington State near Moscow, Idaho, was arrested in connection to the U of I killings in Pennsylvania while visiting his parents for the holidays, near where Smithers lived. According to NBC News, at his indictment hearing, Kohberger "stood silent" rather than enter a plea related to the Idaho murders. A judge later entered "not guilty" pleas on his behalf, according to CNN.

Smithers' cell phone and other belongings were found inside her home

Dana Smithers was last seen on a home security camera leaving a neighbor's house around 11:05 p.m. on the night she disappeared. At that point, she had her cell phone with her, which was later found inside her home along with other personal belongings. According to the last person to see Smithers alive — her close friend and neighbor, Tara Cioni — Smithers smoked a cigarette during their final visit, something she rarely did except in circumstances when she needed to calm her nerves.

Cioni also said that in retrospect, on the night her friend vanished, Smithers seemed troubled. Smithers reportedly had substance use issues in her past and was on medication. Along with her cell phone and wallet, that medication was not with her when she died. Cioni was invited to return to Smithers' home, but declined. "If I would have known that was the last time I would have seen her, I would have definitely asked more questions but I was sort of like, 'I'm going to bed,'" Cioni said (via NBC News).

Smithers' mother called Cioni the next morning

Tara Cioni was alerted to Dana Smithers' disappearance by Smithers' mother the next morning. Smithers had not returned home the night before, but that was not completely out of character, those close to her said. When Smithers missed a Memorial Day holiday gathering with her family a few days later, she was reported missing. After a lengthy search, her remains were recovered in a wooded area near her home. Smithers' identity was confirmed through dental records, and her remains were reportedly badly decomposed.

According to Smithers' sister, Stacey Smithers (via NBC News), "I'm not going to tell you my sister was an angel. But her meds had been adjusted recently by her primary care physician and in my opinion, she was getting much better." Earlier on the day she disappeared, Smithers spent time with the father of her youngest child in public. Their relationship was described as amicable. On Bryan Kohberger's possible connection to Smithers' death, the Stroud Area Regional Police Department (SARPD) in Pennsylvania said in a May 2023 statement on Facebook, "The SARPD has NO EVIDENCE that Dana Smithers' disappearance is in ANY WAY tied to Idaho murder suspect Bryan Kohberger."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).