Staunton police held a press conference Friday morning at Staunton's City Hall saying they are convinced Sharron Diane Smith committed the double murder at High's Ice Cream Store in 1967. They also say they are working on closing the case. 

Sixty-year-old Sharron Diane Smith, the suspect in the April 11, 1967 shootings of two clerks at Staunton's High's Ice Cream Store, died on the night of January 19, 2009. Smith had heart and kidney problems. Her failing health caused her initial appearance in court in December to be rescheduled.

Smith was charged with first degree murder in the deaths of 19-year-old Constance Smootz Hevener and Hevener's 20-year-old sister-in-law Carolyn Hevener Perry. Smith became the main suspect in the double murder after police began investigating new leads based on a tip passed along by the victims' relatives last summer.

On her death bed, Smith talked about the 1967 murders. Friday, Staunton police released a transcript of her confession. In that confession, she says she shot the two clerks because they made fun of her because she was a lesbian.

"The girls had been teasing her, that was her word. It was over her sexual orientation. She was a lesbian. That is why she had a bullet for Connie Hevener," said Staunton Commonwealth's Attorney Ray Robertson.

Robertson said Smith went into great detail with police about the shootings from her death bed. "Carolyn was the first to be shot. Connie came to administer to Carolyn. She knelt down next to her then Diana, the shooter, was standing over her and shot down," stated Robertson.

Robertson said Smith's account is consistent with the evidence and he thinks she planned the shootings ahead of time. Robertson said, "I think she had it in her mind. That is why she took the gun in there. That is why she parked at the steps up behind Terry Court, rather than right up in front of High's."

Robertson said Staunton police are still trying to find one key piece of physical evidence: the murder weapon.

He also said that they are determined to find out if a detective on the police force in 1967 helped cover up the crimes. Police said Friday that Smith told them she gave pistol she used to city police detective David Bocock, told him what she did and they buried the gun. Bocock died in 2006.

Investigators say Smith's confession nearly 42 years after the crimes helped bring closure but lacked emotion. "She expressed shame in herself. I never saw any tears," said Staunton police investigator Mike King.

Police confirm that the information that helped crack the case was in the file all along. When pressed on whether the case could have been solved sooner, the answer was surprising. "Yeah, sure. It probably could have been," said Staunton Police Chief.

Robertson defended the time it has taken the Staunton police to make an arrest, saying they wanted to be right before making an arrest.

As for the hundreds of pages of case documents from the last four decades released Friday, we're still in the process of going through them. We can confirm that investigators told Smith she would not be going to prison. 

Reported by Keith McGilvery
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