In alleged murder plot, father targeted Idaho Falls attorney, GOP activist

Dale Ivan Smith
Dale Ivan Smith

A Caldwell man was arrested Nov. 16 after police say he attempted to ambush and kill his son, Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith — a prominent Republican perhaps best known in the Treasure Valley for his 2014 attempt to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson.

Dale Ivan Smith, 79, was charged with attempted murder in the first degree, first-degree stalking, possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a bomb or destructive device. His actions as portrayed in court documents had nothing to do with politics — rather, the family had been in conflict since guardianship of Dale Smith’s wife had been turned over to his son.

Dale Smith was found outside his son’s home at 8:34 p.m. Thursday after Bryan Smith called police to report his father for violating a no-contact order. Police found several guns, including an AK-47, and 15 modified World War II pineapple grenades in Dale Smith’s car.

A no-contact order has been in place between Dale Smith and his son and Dale Smith’s wife since June 19. The order was the result of harassing phone calls and threats Dale Smith had made to kill his son or hire people to do it. Dale Smith had violated the no-contact order on at least four separate occasions since July.

During an interview with Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Detective Elena Medrano, Dale Smith denied he intended to kill his son and that his only intention was to leave a letter.

A letter found in Dale Smith’s car addressed to his wife stated his intention to kill Bryan Smith. After Medrano informed him Sheriff’s Office deputies had found the letter, Dale Smith admitted he had gone to Bryan Smith’s home planning to kill him, hoping his wife would be freed.

“I would sacrifice my life, whether that be by execution, in jail, prison for life, whatever to free my wife,” Smith told Medrano.

Sheriff’s Office affidavits from a telephone harassment case in January state Bryan Smith had taken custody of his mother after there were concerns Dale Smith was not providing her with adequate care.

Idaho GOP Debate
Bryan Smith during a GOP primary debate in Twin Falls in April 2014. Smith at the time sought the seat of U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson. Ashley Smith Times-News/AP file

Bryan Smith was in the Treasure Valley in November 2016 to visit his mother when he learned she was in the hospital, according to Medrano’s affidavit. Dale Smith wanted his wife to leave the hospital with him and had attempted to remove his wife from the hospital while she still had an IV in her arm. When Bryan Smith, who by that time had arrived at the hospital, tried to stop him, Dale Smith physically attacked his son, and was removed by hospital security.

After that incident, Bryan Smith took his mother to an elderly care center in Idaho Falls and did not allow his father to speak with her alone. Bryan Smith told police he felt it was unsafe for his mother to stay with Dale Smith, and that he was concerned about an affair his father was having with another woman.

Bryan Smith told his father he needed to confess what he done to his Mormon bishop, complete an addiction and recovery program, and have a psychiatric evaluation before he could see his wife again. Shortly after, Dale Smith’s lawyer contacted Bryan Smith to warn him his father had been talking about killing him.

In January, Bryan Smith took a recording to police of a phone message left by Dale Smith in which he told his son he is “going to turn into a turnip, you’re going to be alive, but you will pray for death when this is through.”

In April, Dale Smith’s lawyer called Bryan Smith again, saying Dale Smith had said he hired two ex-Marines to hurt him. Dale Smith denied it when Medrano interviewed him about the threats, but admitted he had asked his girlfriend’s grandson if he knew any “tough guys.” Medrano also interviewed Dale Smith’s girlfriend’s daughter who had called Bryan Smith the same day as the lawyer saying Dale had talked about hurting him.

After he was arrested on Nov. 16, Dale Smith told detectives that his attorney had told him that if his son died, he may be able to bring his wife home.

Dale Smith said when he approached his son’s house on Nov. 16 he saw headlights and fled, thinking someone had seen him. Dale Smith told investigators he tripped while running and lost his keys. It was about that time that Bryan Smith had called the police, after seeing his father’s car on the property.

When questioned by Medrano Smith told her of the grenades in his car. She contacted Detective Kyle Fieldings with the Bonneville County and Idaho Falls Bomb Squad, who located the grenades. Fieldings found 15 modified World War II pineapple grenades, three rolls of canon fuse, three fuse heads and three electric squib initiators.

Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Sgt. Bryan Lovell said investigators were unsure how Dale Smith got the explosives, but said he had owned them for years. Adderall pills prescribed to Dale Smith’s wife also were in the car, and he had $3,102 in cash.

Smith was arraigned Friday at the Bonneville County Courthouse. His bond was set at $500,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 1.

Attempted murder in the first degree is punishable with up to 15 years in prison. First degree stalking is punishable with a minimum of one year and a maximum of five years in prison. Possession of a schedule II controlled substance is punishable with up to seven years in prison. Unlawful possession of a bomb or destructive device is punishable with up to five years in prison. The attempted murder and stalking charges also have a deadly weapon enhancement, which adds 15 years in prison to both potential punishments.

Statesman staff contributed.