Trial set for 2016 Camden County double murder suspect

Joyce Miller
newsroom@lakesunonline.com
Closeup of gavel in court room

Nearly five years after the crime, the man accused of killing a 27-year-old Camdenton woman and her mother - then trying to cover it up with fire - is scheduled to go to trial on June 15 in Laclede County. 

Steven Ray Endsley was 54-years-old when he was arrested in September 2016 and charged with two counts of murder, armed criminal action, burglary, and arson. Endsley is accused of killing his neighbors, Danielle Smith and her mother, Teresa A. Jackson.  

Endsley has been held without bond since his arrest. 

Endsley was a neighbor of the women who lived in a trailer park near Camdenton on Floyds Drive off of South Business Route 5.

The bodies of Jackson and Smith were discovered in the remains of their burned-out trailer home on the morning of Aug. 29, 2016. According to autopsy results, the women were murdered - stabbed multiple times - prior to the home being set on fire. In addition to both women being stabbed, Jackson also had injuries consistent with strangulation.

At the time of the murders, the Camden County Sheriff’s Department, assisted by the FBI, indicated the murders and fire were being investigated as a hate crime stemming from an ongoing disagreement with a neighbor over sexual orientation. Police had been called to the trailer on previous occasions and one of the victims had made social media posts about incidents.

In an interview in 2016, Danielle Smith’s sister, Heather Smith, said there were numerous incidents involving Endsley with Danielle going so far as to talk to law enforcement about the harassment though nothing came of it.

In court documents, it appears the threats escalated over time. Statements given by friends to investigators indicated Danielle’s lifestyle seemed to be the catalyst for the alleged harassment.

On Aug. 28, the evening before Jackson and Danielle Smith were murdered and the fire was set, Endsley was allegedly shining a green light through the window of Jackson’s home while banging on her door, yelling for her to come outside. Jackson called a friend who later reported the conversation to investigators, describing Jackson as very upset. 

That same evening, Endsley had allegedly been drinking and made threats during a conversation to another person that he would burn the trailer down “if I could get away with it,” referring to Jackson and Danielle’s home. He was also heard making derogatory statements about Danielle, based on information in the probable cause statement.

On Aug. 29 shortly after midnight, Endsley allegedly started texting Danielle, sending her a total of five text messages in a matter of minutes. All derogatory, even one that seemed to taunt Danielle that said, “move” and “Haha popo is on my side...record all you want.”

Endsley allegedly texted his son shortly before the fire broke out and told him to “bring shine.” According to investigators moonshine can be used as an accelerant. 

The court documents did not identify what was used as an accelerant in the fire. The probable cause statement indicates two different areas of the mobile home showed signs of accelerant, one near where each of the victims’ was found.

Mid-County Fire Protection District personnel responded to the fire around 5 a.m. Aug. 29.

That same morning, Endsley had left town during the early morning hours. He was found later that day at his sister’s house. Court records did not identify where the sister’s house was located but there was a reference to Endsley calling his sister around 4:30 that morning to tell her he was coming to her house. 

In her statement in the court documents, she told investigators she had not seen Endsley in two years and had not spoken to him since early spring of 2016.

Video surveillance tape pulled from several locations near the trailer home showed two vehicles leaving the area around the time of the fire. One of the vehicles matched the description of Danielle Smith’s car that was taken from the home, later found abandoned in Laclede County. Another vehicle in the video matched that of Endsley’s tan van.

Endsley’s case was moved to Laclede County on a change of venue. Five days have been set aside for the trial.