Akron family fights to keep a convicted killer locked up

Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 10:26 PM EST

AKRON, Ohio (WOIO) - An emotional plea from the loved ones of a local woman murdered more than 20 years ago by a man she trusted, brought into her family and gave a second chance in life.

The family and friends of Lilius Landrum of Akron say they are still fighting for justice, and in this case, it’s to keep their loved one’s killer behind bars.

Lilius Landrum of Akron was a Hollywood Actress featured in some of the biggest shows during the 70′s and 80′s, including Gimme A Break and Family Matters. But, at some point, she returned home to Northeast Ohio and she met prison inmate Tony Rahmel Smith through the prison ministry that was so important to her.

On April 3, 1998, Landrum’s body was found in the basement of the Fern Street home she shared with Smith. Her head had been decapitated. Ulius Landrum-Benson is the victim’s older sister and couldn’t fight back tears as she told 19 News about the heinous way her sister died, “He just let her lay there on the floor and he had her head in a bucket and he was using that as a toilet. So, to let him out is beyond imagination.”

Tony Rahmel Smith pleaded guilty to Landrum’s murder in December of 1998 and was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years. But, on December 21st of this year, the convicted murderer will go before the parole board hoping he will be released after two decades, “He’s asking for a second chance, and I want to say Lilius gave him a second chance. She believes in him, she pulled him into the community, into the family and the thanks she got is what he did to her.”

Smith was denied parole 10 years ago, and family and friends of the victim have signed petitions asking the 9-member parole board to keep him locked up. Pastor Lorenzo Glenn is a longtime friend of the victims and believes her killer is evil personified, “I’m a pastor, I look at forgiveness and it’s not that I don’t forgive him, but, I think the penitentiary should be his home. He’s a dangerous individual because he can mask how psychotic he is.”

Angela Walker-Forte was best friends with the victim since the 5th grade. She feels the only way true justice can be served is if her friend’s killer spends the rest of his life behind bars, “I would like to say he should never get out because he did that crime so easily. He will do it again to someone.”

The victim’s family and friends describe Smith’s parole hearing as ripping a band-aid off of a wound that will never heal. They say Smith even attempted to profit from his unthinkable crime, writing a book and then talking about wanting to open a domestic violence shelter in the murder victim’s name. Ulius Landrum-Benson says her sister had a heart of gold and believed in helping people, “She was a gentle heart that believed in humanity, and she believed that through prayer he could be saved.”

If murderer Tony Rahmel Smith is granted parole when he goes before the prison board on December 21st, the family of the victims says that along with the prosecutor, they will appeal and fight with everything they have to try and keep a dangerous killer locked up for life.