Atheist Activist Kills Wife and Himself in “Suspected Murder-Suicide”

***Update***: You can read an obituary for Jennifer Smith right here.

Scott Smith, a military veteran and atheist activist, has reportedly killed himself and his wife, who was planning to file for divorce. Smith was also a known advocate of mental health awareness.

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He and his wife were found dead today in a “suspected murder-suicide,” according to San Antonio Police Chief William McManus.

McManus said that the couple was found dead in the upstairs portion of their home in the 13800 block of Possum Tree. Police heard two gunshots prior to the discovery. A handgun was used in the shootings, McManus said.

The man called 911 around 10:41 a.m. and threatened to hurt himself and his wife, police spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Ramos said.

A SWAT team was called out to the home but they never made contact with the man.

Prior to committing the act, Smith posted on Facebook a cryptic message that only said “Goodbye.” Many of his friends commented with supporting words, and some suspected his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) might be a possible cause.

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Anthony Magnabosco, a secular activist and advocate of “Street Epistemology,” told me he had a lunch appointment with Smith that was abruptly canceled. Magnabosco said Smith cancelled the meeting and then made the post on Facebook, prompting him to check in at Smith’s house.

Smith was many things: a husband, a father, the co-host of the “Recovering from Religion” podcast (on which I have been a guest multiple times), and an active member of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers (MAAF). Of those who knew him well, everyone I’ve spoken to has said they are confused and unsure of how Smith could do this.

I met Smith in 2015 when I gave a talk for San Antonio Air Force recruits about atheism and skepticism, and nothing about him struck me as out of the ordinary. He seemed like a perfectly decent guy. (I’m on the right in the picture below.)

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Jason Torpy of MAAF told me Smith was a First Sergeant in the Army. He also expressed skepticism at the idea that PTSD was the proximite cause, saying “it seems very premeditated.”

This is the perfect time to talk about gun violence and violence against women because both apply here. There’s no reason to vilify an individual, but this is an otherwise good person by all accounts who did wrong… The facts are he was very active in the atheist community and other events outside his local area. He did charity events as well… I can’t say anything bad about him except that he killed his wife, which is pretty bad. But prior to that, he seemed like a model member of the community.

No one is exactly sure what happened right now, but we know Smith did something terrible and that his young daughters will likely suffer as a result. My condolences are with them right now.

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