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Family of woman found dismembered, set on fire pleading for answers

No arrests have been made
Posted at 10:49 PM, Mar 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-01 23:15:34-05

CLEVELAND — A grieving family is still searching for answers after a horrific crime that claimed the life of their loved one nearly two weeks ago.

“We just can’t have somebody walking around who could do this to someone else again,” Kim Smith-Woodford said. “To someone’s else’s sister, daughter, mother, aunt, friend.”

Renee Smith’s siblings are speaking out after her dismembered body was found on fire near railroad tracks near Larchmont Road and Clermont Road on Feb. 19.

“We never thought we’d be a family dealing with death in this kind of way,” Smith-Woodford said.

Smith-Woodford was horrified to hear reports of the Collinwood Neighborhood homicide on the news.

“Just thought 'How tragic and how horrific that is. That poor victim, right?'” Smith-Woodford said.

One week later she learned that victim was her sister, Renee.

“I’m sure my sister put up a fight,” Smith-Woodford said. “And that hurts our heart to know that she was in a situation like that where she had to fight for her life.”

Renee Smith was a mother of two with her second grandchild on the way.

“I had the unfortunate responsibility of breaking the news to one of her daughters,” Smith-Woodford said. “It was horrible.”

Smith’s siblings said their sister battled mental illness for years.

“I know she struggled,” Smith-Woodford said. “And it was more than just anxiety and depression.”

Despite her struggles, Smith-Woodford said her sister was not the person some people are portraying her as online.

“They painted a picture of my sister like she deserved that evil that came upon her on her death,” Smith-Woodford said.

Because of the horrific nature of Renee Smith’s death, her family said they were robbed of closure through a visitation or open-casket memorial service.

“People were so evil enough to further strip her of her dignity,” Smith-Woodford said. “Strip the family of any dignity in her death and remembrance.”

Renee Smith’s sister said she was decapitated before being set on fire, making it more difficult for investigators to identify her.

“Right now we don’t even know how she died because of the way they discarded her,” Smith-Woodford said. “Because of the way the evil [person] did that to her.”

Smith’s family is pleading for empathy and understanding from the community.

“She was somebody’s mother. She was a sister,” Smith-Woodford said. “An aunt, a cousin, a friend.”

They’re also pressing for answers from law enforcement.

“Push as hard as if this happened to someone of their own family,” Smith-Woodford said. “We need that.”

Investigators told News 5 they are following multiple leads.

At this time, no arrests have been made in this case.

If you have any information on the death of Renee Smith, you’re urged to contact the Cleveland Division of Police.

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