Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Clues sought in restaurant slaying

Quiet Crestview Hills shaken; Applebee's to reopen today

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

CRESTVIEW HILLS - Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar remained closed Monday as detectives continued to search for clues in the shooting death of the restaurant's night manager.

Mark Allen Smith, the father of two children, was shot once in the face near the parking lot entrance after closing Sunday, authorities said. A cleaning crew found the body of the 36-year-old several hours later and called police.

"When I met with officers on Sunday there were different theories being looked at," said Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Bill Crockett, who was at the scene Sunday.

He said the restaurant closed about 1 a.m. Sunday and that Smith was last seen by a fellow employee about 3 a.m. A cleaning crew found the body at 4:30 a.m. Doors to the restaurant were locked.

Lakeside Park/Crestview Hills Police Chief Paul Herbst, a former Kentucky State Police trooper, did not return phone calls Monday. His department is leading the investigation with the assistance of Kenton County police.

Smith had been an Applebee's employee for three years and had worked at the Crestview Hills location for seven months, according to the company. He is a former Marine, and his father, Marvin Smith, is a retired Boone County police officer.

Management closed the restaurant for a second day on Monday. The restaurant is scheduled to reopen today.

The killing shook the normally quiet Northern Kentucky bedroom community of about 2,900 residents. The city hadn't been the site of a homicide in nearly five years.

Smith is survived by his wife, Stacy Smith; sons Austin Tyler Smith and Mason Alexander Smith; parents Marvin and Alice Mae Smith of Ormond Beach, Fla.; and brother Robert Wesley Smith of Burlington.

Visitation will be 4-9 p.m. Thursday, and service 1 p.m. Friday at Stith Funeral Home, 7500 U.S. 42 in Florence. Burial will be in Burlington Cemetery.

Memorials can be made to the Mark Allen Smith Children's Benefit Fund, care of any Fifth Third Bank location.

Cindy Schroeder contributed to this report.

E-mail jhannah@enquirer.com

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