Man claimed to be homeless to gain trust of 95-year-old victim to assault and rob him in his home

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BAY COUNTY, FL – The Bay County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of Michael Eugene Smith yesterday. Smith is a suspect in a Home Invasion Robbery and the subsequent theft of the victim’s vehicle.

On the afternoon of Sunday, December 5, 2021, a ninety-five-year-old man was approached at his residence in Cedar Grove by Smith. Smith told the victim he was homeless, living in the woods, and needed money for a motel room. The elderly victim then gave Smith a small amount of cash to assist him and Smith left the area.

A short time later, the victim was inside his residence when he was approached from behind and placed in a chokehold. BCSO investigators believe this was done by Michael Eugene Smith. The victim was forced to the ground, where he was struck several times. Smith then demanded the victim’s wallet and took an undisclosed amount of cash. Smith demanded the victim’s keys to his truck and fled the area in the victim’s truck. The truck was abandoned in a parking lot off of 15th Street in Panama City, where it was recovered and returned to the victim.

Through a canvass of the area and numerous interviews over a two-day investigation, Smith’s identity was revealed. Investigators discovered that Smith had checked into a local motel and made contact with him. Smith, age 47, a transient originally from Kentucky, was taken into custody and charged with Home Invasion Robbery and Grand Theft Auto.