Atlanta man suspected in triple killings due in court Tuesday

Atlanta man suspected in triple killings due in court Tuesday

An Atlanta man charged with killing his wife and her 12-year-old daughter, and also suspected in the slaying of a woman found dead Sunday in an East Point hotel room, will go before a judge on Tuesday.

Joseph Smith, 31, was booked into the Fulton County Jail late Sunday, charged by Atlanta police with two counts of murder. His first court appearance, initially scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday, was reset for Tuesday morning at the jail.

East Point police spokesman Cliff Chandler told the AJC that officers responding to a request Sunday morning for a “welfare check” found a woman dead inside a room at the Wellesley Inn hotel on Virginia Avenue.

She had been strangled to death, the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution early Monday afternoon.

Chandler said that Smith, who was arrested by Atlanta police Sunday morning following the standoff at the Cascades by Centex complex off Benjamin E. Mays Drive, is suspected of killing the woman earlier found at the hotel.

Smith is also suspected of killing his wife and a child who were found dead inside the home where the standoff took place, according to Chandler.

“He turned himself over to police during the negotiations,” Atlanta police Lt. Paul Guerrucci said Sunday afternoon.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office late Sunday afternoon identified the two women killed as Loveitt Wallace, 36, who was found dead in the East Point hotel room, and Shatikey Griffin, 34, who died along with her daughter in Atlanta.

Griffin’s father, Thaddues Griffin, told the AJC that his daughter and Smith had only been married for about a month. He identified his deceased granddaughter as 12-year-old Demiya Griffin, who was a student at Kipp Ways Academy.

“This is a tragic loss to the KIPP WAYS Academy Team & Family,” KIPP WAYS Academy principal Dwight Ho-Sang said in a statement released Sunday night. “Demiya was an incredibly sweet young girl who consistently demonstrated the school’s values and was a great teammate. As an honor roll student who loved theater, Demiya had a very bright future ahead of her. We will miss her warm smile and bubbly personality.”

The KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools, including KIPP WAYS Academy, have a regularly scheduled fall break this coming week and school will not be in session. The school will provide grief counselors to students, the statement said.

Marcus Garner contributed to this story.

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