PORTLAND, Ore. » An Oregon college football player charged with killing a 66-year-old man was being held without bail Friday following a court appearance that shed no light on the circumstances of the alleged crime, which has shocked and baffled many in his school and hometown.
Beau Wesley Smith, 21, of Willamette University in Salem, did not enter a plea or say anything at Thursday’s hearing.
Police arrested the senior chemistry major Wednesday, about a half-mile from where Michael Hampshire’s body was found at 3:40 a.m.
An autopsy showed the retired airplane mechanic died of blunt-force injuries to the head, according to the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office. Police and prosecutors have yet to divulge the alleged chain of events, or say if a weapon was used.
It does not appear that Hampshire and Smith knew each other, said Doug Hanson, a deputy district attorney.
Oregon Department of Corrections records show Hampshire completed probation last year for menacing. Smith, who lives off campus, has no criminal background.
He plays wide receiver for Division III Willamette, a small, private university about 50 miles south of Portland. Willamette concludes its nine-game season Saturday. Smith caught 25 passes and scored three touchdowns in the team’s first eight games.
He is originally from Roseville, California, a Sacramento suburb. Former Roseville High Principal Brad Basham told the Sacramento Bee that Smith graduated in the top 5 percent of his class and was never in trouble. News that the former high school sports star was charged with murder is "almost unbelievable," Basham told the paper.
Smith’s next court date is Dec. 11.
"My client fully cooperated with the police investigation on the night of the incident, and we agree with the state that we need to continue this matter for 30 days, so that I can provide information about my client’s character and background, and the state can further investigate," said Walter Todd, an attorney hired by Smith’s family.
Todd said Smith’s parents, Rod and Julie, flew in from Northern California and met with their son Friday at the Marion County Jail.
Though the death occurred away from campus, Willamette has begun a student conduct investigation, university spokesman Adam Torgerson said.
"Our community is struggling to grapple with this tragic situation," he said.
Hampshire lived a short walk from where his body was found.
Dallas Yetter, a pastor who lives across the street from Hampshire, described Hampshire as someone who enjoyed talking with neighbors. Hampshire volunteered with a food share program and passed his time doing remodeling projects on his home, the Salem Statesman Journal reported.
"He would catch me out in the yard working and just come over and talk," Yetter told the newspaper. "He liked working with his hands. He was innovative and liked to try new things. He liked a challenge."
As for why Hampshire would be out in the middle of the night, Yetter said his neighbor sometimes took walks when he had trouble sleeping.