This story is from the Globe archive. It originally appeared August 23, 1992.
On their wedding day, Pamela and Gregory Smart danced to the tune “Honestly” and vowed to love each other forever.
A year later, with Gregory dead from Bill Flynn’s bullet, Pamela bought her teen-age lover a 50-cent medallion that said “Bill and Pam Forever.”
Now there are new forevers.
For Pamela Smart, sentenced for life to a 7- by 10-foot cinder block cell for conspiring to kill her husband, there are the vows of everlasting love she issues by mail to a worldwide flock of supporters who have ponied up nearly $40,000 to help her lawyer try to free her.
For William Flynn, serving a prison term of 28 years to life for shooting Gregory Smart in the head as an accomplice, and Patrick Randall, who held the kneeling victim at knifepoint, there is the lingering ache of the medallion’s prophecy lost.
Flynn was a 15-year-old freshman at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton when Pamela Smart, then the school’s media services director at age 23, seduced him and used promises of love and threats of rejection to manipulate him into killing her husband, according to testimony at her trial.
“She made my life,” Flynn said of Pamela in a recent jailhouse interview, his first since his arrest two years ago. “She was someone I could talk to. I could say whatever I wanted. She’d comfort me.”
For the rest of us, forever is a seemingly perpetual saga of love and betrayal, unfolding like a dime-store romance as the appellate case of State of New Hampshire v. Pamela Smart churns through the legal system, leaving a wake of shattered lives and broken dreams.
The sensational crime, one of the most widely publicized in New England history, inspired three books, a television movie and worldwide interest, which Pamela Smart continues to foster with her high-profile appeal and widely distributed newsletter to supporters and reporters.
Even as Flynn, Randall and a third accomplice, Vance Lattime Jr., were sentenced to the New Hampshire state prison last week for their roles in the May 1, 1990 murder, Smart’s family mailed her 11th newsletter, in which she depicted herself as part victim, part martyr and part inspirational leader to her fellow inmates at the New Hampshire State Prison for Women in Goffstown. A fourth accomplice, Raymond Fowler, 21, pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to murder and was sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison.
A graduate of the communications program at Florida State University, Smart teaches several high school-level courses at the prison.
“Though I have lost many tangible things we might associate with living,” she wrote in the newsletter, “I have not lost the ability to use my mind, my education, my compassion, my loving nature and my dreams to give someone else something that I have a lot of — courage.”
But one person’s courage may be another’s chutzpah.
“Sympathy and publicity, sympathy and publicity, over and over and over,” Flynn wrote to a reporter last year after Smart expressed similar emotions in a newsletter. “Why can’t we just let this thing rest? I don’t understand what’s going on around me sometimes.”
Flynn, dubbed “the baby-face crime leader” in Smart’s latest newsletter, apparently has also yet to fully comprehend the dynamics that prompted him to kill. Of his relationship with Pamela, he said, “She was the center of my world. She made it, ah, how do I put this? If she told me to kill myself, I would have. She kept at it, playing with my head. She made it perfectly clear she was history” if he did not commit the murder. “She made it seem justified. It’s a sick thing to say, like it had to be done. It’s still hard to explain.”
Smart, 25, whose prison wall is adorned with a fading photograph of her husband, has acknowledged her affair with Flynn but denied playing any role in the murder. She contends Flynn killed her husband because he was romantically obsessed with her, then concocted a phony story with Randall and Lattime to pin the crime on her.
Under their agreements with prosecutors, the three men, all of whom faced first-degree murder charges with a mandatory penalty of life in prison without parole, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Flynn and Randall received sentences of 28 years to life, and Lattime 18 years to life.
All three may petition the court every two years to reduce their sentences.
“All good citizens should shudder that the New Hampshire attorney general’s office stressed the pursuit of victory over truth,” said Linda Wojas, Smart’s mother. She charges that the plea bargains led to false testimony, a charge that prosecutors deny.
Smart would be free today, her supporters argue, had Rockingham County Superior Court Judge Douglas R. Gray granted her a proper trial when she was convicted in March 1991.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Sept. 15 in Smart’s appeal. Her lawyer, J. Albert Johnson of Boston, will argue that Gray erred in the face of pervasive negative publicity by failing either to postpone the trial or move it to another location or to sequester the jury, even after their deliberations began.
Should that appeal fail, Johnson said, he would exercise one of two options: take Smart’s case to the US District Court in Concord or to the US Supreme Court. And should he fail in one court, he said, he would go to the other.
“As long as I’m around,” Johnson said, “the Pam Smart case, as an example of gross injustice, will never disappear.”
Nor apparently will William and Judith Smart stop their campaign to mete all the punishment they can upon their son’s killers. The Smarts, who said their emotional distress in the aftermath of Gregory’s death contributed to them filing last year for bankruptcy, have won a $5 million default judgment against their former daughter-in-law in a wrongful death suit and are seeking a similar judgment against Flynn, according to their lawyer, Leslie Nixon, of Manchester.
The Smarts have also asked Pamela to return numerous possessions they say belonged to their son, including a stereo, compact disc player, color television, washing machine and dining room set.
Pamela Smart has not responded, Nixon said. And Linda Wojas declined to comment last week when asked in an interview about the items.
Nixon said the Smarts have also been unable to attach the funds given Pamela Smart’s trust fund by her supporters, including Albino Pereira, of Bath, Maine, who donated more than $ 15,000. Smart has argued the money is technically not hers because it is earmarked for legal expenses, Nixon said.
Meanwhile, as Pamela Smart spends much of each day responding to a continuing torrent of mail, Flynn, too, answers letters generated by the case’s notoriety. Among his correspondents last year, he said, was a woman from California who urged him to call her.
When he called, he said, she started crying.
“I hope you don’t hate me for saying this,” he said the woman told him, “but would you marry me?”
“I said I’d never hate her,” he continued. “She seemed to think I said yes to her proposal. She said, ‘This is the happiest day of my life.’ I didn’t know what to do. There are some things I hate to see in this world, which are crying girls and hurting people.”Bob Hohler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.