Prison letters discuss plan

Police find fliers in home of woman investigated in escape

May 25, 1999|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

An armed robber and his prison psychologist paramour are being investigated in a series of alleged mail order schemes through an Annapolis post office box, state police said.

Fliers detailing the operation were found at the home of psychologist Elizabeth L. Feil, who is being investigated to determine whether she aided in the escape of her former patient, Byron Smoot, from Maryland Correctional Institution -- Jessup. Shoe boxes filled with correspondence between Feil and other inmates were discovered by her husband, Glenn Bosshard, at their Annapolis home and turned over to police.

In the fliers, "St. Byron & Elizabeth Specialty Consulting," offers customers "MEGABUCK -- money making opportunities" and free T-shirts for purchasing a $5 directory of investment possibilities.

Feil's attorney, Isaiah Dixon III of Towson, said he does not know "anything about a mail fraud scheme."

On May 17, Smoot and murderer Gregory Lawrence escaped from the medium-security facility. Police said they suspect Feil picked up the two men at a pay phone in front of a liquor store near the prison. She has not been charged in the escape, state police said.

The inmate and the therapist met in July 1997, when Smoot was incarcerated at the Patuxent Institution -- a maximum-security prison that specializes in rehabilitating inmates -- in Jessup.

Feil was fired from Patuxent for setting up a post office box to receive letters where she exchanged intimate correspondence with prisoners. She opened the post office box in May 1998, postal records show, and she said the box would not be used for business purposes.

The typewritten letters to Feil from Smoot that her husband has publicized vacillate between pornographic fantasy and discussion of their business.

Smoot calls her "Bookie" and "Banana Queen" and writes her poems. He also admonishes her for chewing her nails.

Feil writes on puppy stationery in an undated letter to Smoot -- telling him that it is "only a matter of time before everything blows up in my face and I dread finding out how that will affect me and you and my life overall." She talks about how much she loves him.

Smoot worries that he is "wasting his life, even though I know it is moving in a positive direction."

Letters, fliers describe plan

The letters show a couple focused on amassing money. They plot to promise customers "free money as our gift to you" for answering advertisements they planned to post in churches and unemployment offices.

"If you want your share of the $170,000,000 mail order and direct marketing business; write today for a free brochure," says one of the pair's leaflets. "We put our money where our mouth is absolutely no one can afford to give away `free' money unless they are making `MEGA-BUCKS.' "

In the letters, Smoot tells Feil to buy file folders and label them carefully. He asks her to copy their advertisements onto pink paper because "it looks more attractive."

State police have not determined if the pair posted fliers or earned money from the plan.

His writings in February allude to escape plans. Smoot recounts a conversation with dormmates about how to escape in eight minutes.

"It won't be until spring, this is the real thing honey, there won't be anymore delays," writes Smoot. "All I know is that if the nest is ready by then, the eagle will land."

The letters suggest an emotional bond between the thief and the therapist. "My objective in this relationship is to show you that no one will ever love you the way I do," writes Smoot in a letter dated Dec. 7, 1998.

He writes of the fear that his life is being wasted and of his conversion to Islam. He signs the correspondences, "your husband Byron."

Feil corresponds regularly with Smoot's mother and father, according to the letters her husband turned over.

Smoot's wife off visiting list

Smoot's wife, however, the Rev. Yvonne Smoot, said she was unaware that her husband had become involved with his therapist.

"Whatever may have transpired in the prison was clear-cut adultery," she said. "In my mind, I had resolved to divorcing him. The adultery just gave me something to substantiate what I was going to do."

She said her husband took her off his visiting list a year ago. They met at what is now University of Maryland Medical Center, where Smoot worked as a janitor. She is a minister at St. John's United Methodist Church in Baltimore.

Smoot's wife says she can understand how an Ivy League psychologist could fall for her husband.

"He is the type of person that will make you like him," she said.

Prison officials are continuing their investigation into the escape and have begun staffing a guard tower that was empty when the two inmates broke out.

Prison officials have suspended two corrections officers and three others face possible disciplinary action, said William W. Sondervan, commissioner of the Division of Correction.

Other security lapses at MCI being examined include faulty sirens, corrections officers who failed to respond to a motion-detector warning; a half-hour delay in noticing the first inmate was missing and 3 1/2-hour lag before determining a second had escaped.

Sondervan will also ask state legislators for money to hire more corrections officers. The division is short about 800 officers statewide, he said.

"But I want to be clear," Sondervan said, "that no institution has gone unstaffed on a given shift."

Sun staff writer Del Quentin Wilber contributed to this article.

Pub Date: 5/25/99

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