Campbell County Teen Says He Was ‘Too Angry To Sleep’ When He Stabbed Mom

A 17-year-old Campbell County teen was charged as an adult on Wednesday with attempted first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing his mother with a 13.5-inch knife earlier in the week. He told police, he was “too angry to sleep.”

Jen Kocher

June 13, 20243 min read

Campbell County Courthouse in Gillette, Wyoming.
Campbell County Courthouse in Gillette, Wyoming. (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

GILLETTE — A 17-year-old Campbell County teen is being charged as an adult with attempted first-degree murder for allegedly stabbing his mother in the back while she was in bed sleeping.

Tharles Smith appeared in Campbell County Circuit Court before Judge Wendy Bartlett on Wednesday afternoon for his first appearance.

He’s accused of stabbing his mother, Karla Smith, in the back with a 13.5-inch knife overnight Monday, fracturing her left shoulder blade and damaging her left lung, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in the case.

His mother survived the attack and was flown by air ambulance to Campbell County Memorial Hospital, according to court documents. Her status and condition are unknown as the hospital would not release that information.

If convicted, Smith stands to face life in prison, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both. He’s being held on a $250,000 cash only bond with an arraignment scheduled later this month.

‘Too Angry’ To Sleep

The alleged incident stems back to Monday, when Smith had been engaged in an ongoing argument with his family about their desire for him to move out.

Both his mother and adopted father, Andrew Smith, felt he was not following “the rules” and were in the process of moving him into a new residence to which Smith didn’t want to go, according to the affidavit.

The family had been to the new residence early that evening and returned home as the argument continued. He had dinner and did chores, followed by a conversation with his parents about his disobedience, Tharles Smith reportedly told police.

During the conversation, he said he just listened as his mother discussed plans for his moving out, but admitted that it made him angry, according to the affidavit.

Later that night, he found himself “too angry” to sleep because he felt like his parents “were trying to get rid of him,” which he admitted to police made him feel angry and hurt.

After waiting until everyone went to bed, Smith told investigators that he then went into the kitchen and took a 13.5-inch knife from a magnetic holder and entered his parents’ darkened bedroom, the affidavit says.

He then leapt onto his mother’s sleeping body and forcefully stabbed her once in the back, the teen allegedly told police. When she woke up and asked why he had punched her, Smith explained that he hadn’t hit her, but rather stabbed her and she had a knife in her back, court documents state.

He attempted to leave the room because he didn’t want to see his mother die, Tharles Smith told police, but she convinced him to stay with her while she called 911.

Emergency physician Dr. Jake Rinker said that the knife had penetrated approximately two-thirds of the way through her chest cavity and that she was “very lucky” to have survived the stabbing, according to the narrative in the affidavit.

Always Angry

The teen told the responding officer that he couldn’t explain why he hurt his mother, only that he had been “troubled” since he was young and was always angry.

In court Wednesday, he told Judge Bartlett that he has lived in far western Campbell County for about 12 years and just finished 10th grade at Clearmont School in Sheridan County and was hoping to attend next year.

Other than this current charge, Tharles Smith also had a juvenile case that was closed last August, according to court documents.

He has been granted a public defender and his arraignment is scheduled for 2 p.m. June 21 in Campbell County Circuit Court.

Jen Kocher can be reached at

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Jen Kocher

Features, Investigative Reporter