SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE
Police block off the Coquina Beach parking lot
where the body of Orland Hanks was found behind
the bushes in the center of the photo.
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH Police say it appears a murder/suicide
at Coquina Beach and just short of the Longboat Pass Bridge
last Friday was premeditated.
According to police reports, it all began when Orland Hanks,
32, of Cortez, kidnapped his estranged girlfriend, Michelle
Smith, 33, also of Cortez, and took her to Bradenton Beach
Friday morning shortly before 7 a.m.
Smith had gotten an injunction against Hanks in July and
three days before the shooting, Hanks had appeared in court
to answer charges that he had violated the order not to
go near her.
According to Bradenton Beach Police Sgt. Det. Lenard Diaz,
Hanks left behind evidence that he had been planning the
"They had gotten back together three days prior to
the shooting," he said. "His roommate said Hanks
came into her bedroom Thursday night, kissed her on the
forehead and told her he had put something under her pillow
and for her not to look at it until the morning.
She forgot about it the next morning but when we questioned
her, she remembered it and got it. It was a deck of tarot
cards and the top one was labeled justice."
Diaz said he feels that the injunction that she had filed
against him possibly drove him over the edge, even though
they had appeared to have made up with each other. He said
that raises questions whether he forcibly kidnapped her
the morning of the shooting.
In addition to the domestic violence incident that led to
the injunction in July, Hanks also had a felony stalking
charge filed in August 2005, which the district attorneys
office decided not to prosecute.
In April 2005, Lori Lynn Powers got an injunction against
him. He had fathered a child with Powers, but the relationship
had turned sour and he had reportedly made threats against
Diaz said it appears Hanks got the pistol used in the shooting
three weeks earlier. He said they found more evidence in
the house that the shootings were premeditated when they
spoke with his roommate.
"She said he had a small safe in his bedroom,"
Diaz said. "She knew how to open it and when we asked
if we could look inside, she said okay. There was a branch
new box of 38-caliber bullets there and four were missing."
Diaz said Hanks fired two bullets into Smiths head
and his head and they have not be able to find the other
Several people witnessed the Smiths shooting, including
Patti Reid, daughter of Duffys Tavern owner Pat Geyer.
"I was on my way to work in Sarasota when I saw the
couple arguing on the side of the road," she said.
"The girl looked like she was trying to get away from
him, so I pulled over to the side of the road and called
Reid said she asked for Bradenton Beach Police, but the
operator refused to transfer the call and asked her questions
about Smith, who continued to struggle with Hanks.
"When I looked into my rear view mirror, I saw the
woman go down," Reid said. "I told the operator
that they needed to send someone right away.
"I backed up, got out and checked the woman and she
still had a pulse," Reid continued. "A couple
of other witnesses pulled up and asked where the man was.
I went over to the side of the road and saw him lying
under a tree and when I went over to him, I could see he
Reid said Longboat Key police were the first to arrive at
the scene. Smith reportedly called her sister in New Jersey
while she and Hanks were arguing and left a message, saying
this might be the last time she would talk with anybody.
She also called her parents in Florida to tell them that
Hanks was holding a gun on her and had told her to call
her parents and tell them she loved them.
Reid said after police questioned her about what she saw,
she spotted a cell phone near the road, which they took
Gulf Drive was closed to traffic shortly after the shooting
while police investigated the shootings. It reopened around
10 a.m., causing problems for commuters between the Island
and Longboat Key. A school bus was late arriving at Anna
Maria Elementary School because of the closed road.
A memorial for Michelle Smith is planned for Sunday, Aug.
27, starting at 8 p.m. at the Banana Factory Two, 10104
Cortez Road W., where she was employed.