Pierce City’s Timmons charged with first-degree murder in 31-year-old cold case

Steve Chapman

Private investigation firm associated with TV show unearths new information leading to charge
When Lawrence Timmons was booked into the Lawrence County Jail on Monday, Aug. 19, he was charged with two counts of forgery and six counts of unlawful possession of a firearm. On Friday, Sept. 6, a grand jury charged him with first-degree murder.
Timmons, of Pierce City, is charged with the 1988 murder of Cynthia A. Smith, a California native who was living in Aurora at the time (Smith’s name was redacted from a copy of the indictment provided, but she was widely reported as the victim of the murder earlier). The indictment accuses Timmons of deliberately causing death by striking.
According to a press release issued by Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office, the case was reopened after the sheriff’s office was contacted by a “private investigation firm who wished to assist with new information that they had received.”
“After several months of on-going investigations, information was turned over to the Lawrence County Prosecutor who presented the information to a grand jury,” the statement read. “After receiving the information, the grand jury issued the indictment on Timmons.”
According to an article which ran in the Record on Thursday, Aug. 11, 1988, Smith was last seen leaving a Mt. Vernon establishment on Thursday, July 28, 1988 (the establishment was later identified as Checker’s Bar and Grill) with an unidentified male. Her body was found 10 days later in a dirt lane leading to Dry Valley Cemetery, about five miles northwest of Pierce City. According to a death notice which appeared in the Joplin Globe on Oct. 5, 1988, Smith’s body was eventually cremated and the ashes sent to San Mateo, Calif. for interment.
At the time of Smith’s death, Timmons, now 65, was questioned but not charged. According to an article which ran in the Record on Aug. 18, 1988, Timmons was arrested and charged by members of the Lawrence County Major Crimes Unit on Aug. 11, 1988 with allegedly raping a 24-year-old Monett woman at gunpoint. That crime was reported to have taken place on Wed., July 27, 1988, a day before Smith was last seen alive. The victim reportedly told investigators she was attacked by Timmons as the two were “enroute to the lounge from where Ms. Smith disappeared.”
The case was eventually transferred on a change of venue to Stone County; no record of a conviction was found.
 The grand jury’s indictment labels Timmons as a prior and persistent offender as he was found guilty of first-degree robbery in Greene County on Dec. 15, 1977. He was also found guilty of kidnapping in Greene County the following year. In that latter case, KY3 reported that Timmons was approached on May 19, 1976 at his home in Springfield by an 11-year old boy who was looking for work mowing lawns. Timmons told the boy he would ask his wife and went inside the house.
He returned with a shotgun and forced the boy inside his home and then into the basement, where he covered the boy’s head with a sack and tied his hands with baling twine before picking the boy up by one arm and one leg and forcing his head into a cooler filled with water.
The attack was interrupted when two women arrived. Timmons went upstairs to greet them, and then left the house with them, leaving the boy downstairs. The boy managed to escape and alert police. Timmons served three years in prison for his actions in that case.
KY3 also identified the private investigation firm working with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office as investigators of Cold Justice, a true crime program. Their findings in the case are scheduled to appear on the Oxygen and TNT networks this October or November.
When he was first booked into the Lawrence County Jail, Timmons was held pending $250,000 bond. Online records show he is now being held without bond until trial.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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