Going Rogue: An Obsessive Phoenix Patrol Cop Tried to Nail the Wrong Guy in the Baseline Killer Case

The lead story on KPHO-TV's evening news last April 1 had bombshell potential.

With a mug shot of a sullen-looking African-American man looming in the background, Channel 5's anchor opened the newscast with:

"It's a new face on the most notorious crime spree in Valley history. This is Terry Wayne Smith. He once spent time in prison with Michael Goudeau, Mark's brother.

"He lived near several of the Baseline Killer crime scenes. And he allegedly hinted to his family that he was involved in some of the murders linked to the case."

This was scary stuff.

Phoenix police had arrested Mark Goudeau on September 6, 2006 (his 42nd birthday), on charges of sexually assaulting two sisters at a park near 31st Avenue and Baseline Road. The attacks on the sisters, one of whom was six months pregnant, had occurred one year earlier.

Goudeau had been released from prison on parole in August 2004 after serving 13 years of a 21-year sentence for armed robbery, kidnapping, and aggravated assault (a rape charge was dismissed in return for Goudeau's guilty pleas.)

A county grand jury added 74 new charges in early 2007, indicting Goudeau in the murders of nine people, the sexual assaults of 20 women, and other violent crimes. Goudeau is eligible for the death sentence if convicted.

Authorities alleged Goudeau was the sole perpetrator of a vicious crime spree that (with the concurrent Serial Shooter case) had terrorized Valley residents for more than a year.

Now, Channel 5 was implying that Terry Smith might have been in cahoots with Mark Goudeau, if Goudeau even was involved at all.

"Not long after [Goudeau's arrest]," the anchor said, waving a wad of papers, "a Phoenix police officer wrote this 20-page report with information that pointed to Smith as a potential accomplice in some of those murders.

"According to several people inside the Phoenix Police Department, investigators swept the document under the rug because it could have given Goudeau an alibi."

That officer was Rusty Stuart, a veteran cop assigned to patrol an east Phoenix precinct where the Baseline Killer had struck several times.

Stuart did not respond to repeated requests for an interview for this story.

But his own voluminous writings and other public records show that, in spring 2006, Officer Stuart apparently convinced himself that Terry Wayne Smith — a seriously mentally ill transient — was the Baseline Killer.

Terry Smith is a career criminal who has had serious issues with women, is no stranger to violence, and was in the vicinity of some of the Baseline Killer crime scenes (though not when the murderer struck).

That description also fits the profile of several other men who became investigative leads during the hellish year that ended with Mark Goudeau's September 2006 arrest.

But actual evidence against Smith as the Baseline Killer (or co-conspirator) appears nonexistent.

What the evidence does show is that the killer/rapist was extremely cunning, a serial night crawler whose violent acts were followed by coolly efficient getaways.

If Goudeau was a serial night crawler, Terry Smith was a serial night brawler a petty street criminal with alcohol and drug problems.

But Rusty Stuart's fixation on Smith didn't end with Goudeau's arrest on charges related to the sexual attacks on the two sisters.

Though no one has yet emerged to say, much less prove, that Goudeau and Smith ever met, Officer Stuart theorized after Goudeau's arrest that the two men were murderous co-conspirators.

Though detectives on the Baseline Killer task force were skeptical of Stuart's suppositions, they asked him to summarize his "evidence" against Terry Smith in writing.

Stuart did so in October 2006, a month after Goudeau's arrest, submitting a 20-page summary of his "findings," as well as a 166-page supplement (typed in only capital letters) that included maps, news clippings, police reports, and his own analysis of everything Smith-related.


A review of Stuart's report finds it rife with speculation, innuendo, leaps of logic, and factual inaccuracies.

That Stuart's effort eventually found a receptive audience with an uncritical news media, a virulently anti-Phoenix PD Web site, and Goudeau's defense team is part of this tangled yarn.

Another part is how the police department failed to stop a rogue patrol officer from conducting a parallel quasi-probe into his own handpicked serial murder suspect, Terry Wayne Smith.

This story also flows through the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, the union for whom Rusty Stuart now is a representative.

PLEA President Mark Spencer makes no secret of his union's disdain for Public Safety Manager (formerly called Police Chief) Jack Harris and his policies.

Last March 30, Spencer wrote a "letter of concern" about the Baseline Killer investigation to kindred spirit Joe Arpaio. What Spencer expected the Maricopa County sheriff to do is uncertain, but the allegations were astounding.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin