Urbana man arrested in September murder

URBANA — An Urbana man has been arrested for the murder of a Champaign woman found dead in her home three months ago.

Darmel L. Smith, 33, of the 1200 block of West Florida Avenue was booked into the county jail about noon Wednesday for the first-degree murder of Sheena R. Williams, 30, of Champaign.

Ms. Williams was found dead in her home at 105 E. Roper St. about 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 6.

First Assistant Champaign County State's Attorney Steve Ziegler said it's believed that Ms. Williams was stabbed and strangled between 10 and 11 a.m. that day in her home.

"We know this from a combination of people who spoke to her and telephone records that indicate she was probably killed then," Ziegler said.

The prosecutor said Smith and Ms. Williams had been in a dating relationship that had ended only days before her death, apparently over allegations that he had stolen property from her.

"There were witnesses who said she was supposed to meet with him that day. We have evidence that he was in that area at the time. The rest of it has to do with suspicious behavior," said Ziegler.

While Smith was considered a suspect early in the case, Ziegler said it took this long for experts to go through "loads and loads of phone records between the two of them and to confirm his location."

Those records revealed that Smith was within a block of Ms. Williams' house immediately before the killing.

Smith is expected to make his first court appearance on the murder charges Thursday.

Judge Heidi Ladd issued a warrant for his arrest Tuesday. He's being held in lieu of $2 million bond.

Court records show Smith has a prior Champaign County conviction from 2008 for possession of a controlled substance.

Ms. Williams had two sons, ages 12 and 8, and worked as a baker at Ryan's Restaurant, according to her obituary.

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