High-profile Homicide Detective Dies

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We're learning more about a highly respected detective who solved one of the most high profile and complex crimes ever committed in El Paso County.

Lou Smit passed away Wednesday afternoon, surrounded by loved ones, following a cancer diagnosis seven weeks ago.

Smit's close friends tell 11 News they have nothing but fond memories.

Smit was a man of great integrity. He was a dedicated Christian. He also had a passion for solving crimes and his colleagues say he was one of the best in the business.

"We were blessed to have him in this community. It made us a safer community by having Lou Smit here. We're going to miss him," said 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May.

The 75-year-old detective was instrumental for his work on several cases such as investigating the murders of 13-year-old Heather Dawn Church in Black Forest, and Karen Grammer, the sister of actor Kelsey Grammer.

Smit also was called on to consult in the investigation in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. His role in that investigation garnered him recognition. In the television movie, "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town," Smit's character was played by Kris Kristofferson.

Lou Smit began his career with the Colorado Springs Police Department in 1966 and retired in 1990. After Smit retired, John Suthers, who was the 4th Judicial District Attorney at the time, hired him as an investigator.

Current District Attorney Dan May says Smit always worked for the victim and the victim's family. He referred to cases by the victim's name, not the defendant.

"When you walked into his office, he had pictures of the victims on his wall of all the cases he was working on and he'd carry those in his pocket with him," said May.

Smit taught his philosophies to other prosecutors and detectives.

"I still have my notebook that I got 25 years ago from him on how to prosecute a homicide and I use that to put together my homicides today," said May.

Former El Paso County Sheriff John Anderson knew Smit for 38 years. He says Smit is the reason he wanted to become a homicide detective.

"I just wanted to be like a Lou Smit. He was kind of my hero and my mentor. I was just fortunate enough to have that happen," said John Anderson.

Anderson worked with Smit for several years in the mid-90's when he was elected Sheriff. Snit left the Sheriff's Office in 1996 to spend more time with his wife, who was in poor health. She eventually lost her battle with cancer.

Even in the last days of his life, Smit continued his efforts to bring closure to unsolved homicide investigations around the country, according to family members. He passed on specific details and case notes to other investigators so those victims would not be forgotten.

Smit is survived by four children, nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.