On March 29, 1983, Sheriff’s Deputies with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office responded to a deceased female found in the San Lorenzo River in Ben Lomond, Calif. The female was identified as 33-year-old Joette Marie Smith, a Ben Lomond resident and owner of the Buffalo Galls restaurant in Ben Lomond.
The Sheriff’s Office determined Smith’s death to be a homicide. She was last seen two nights before leaving Henflings Bar. Numerous items of evidence were located at the crime scene. For the next several years, Sheriff’s Detectives interviewed dozens of people and investigated several leads and tips, but no viable suspect was identified.
In 1988, the Sheriff’s Office developed a suspect in the case, Eric David Drummond. Drummond had an extensive history of violent crimes that included sexual assault convictions in California and Nevada. Detectives learned Drummond had asked Smith for a date while at her restaurant and she declined. Drummond left California abruptly after her murder. While there was circumstantial information tying Drummond to the crime, no criminal case could be brought against Drummond without further physical evidence.
In 2022, Smith’s clothing was reexamined using new technologies and established a suspect DNA profile. In late August 2022, a DNA sample was collected from the 64-year-old Drummond for comparison. Drummond’s DNA was determined to be a match.