A former Miss South Carolina shares story of triumph through tragedy

Dawn Smith Jordan

COLUMBIA (WACH)-- Thirty years ago Lexington County carried out of South Carolina's largest manhunts. 17-year old Shari Smith disappeared from the end of her driveway. Authorities say she was murdered that same night.

Larry Gene Bell abducted and killed Shari Smith. He led the family and police to believe she was still alive. He was infamous for taunting the family of the girls he abducted. A few weeks after Shari's death, Bell abducted and killed nine year old, Debra May Helmick.

It took several weeks for authorities to catch Bell. A note from Shari to her family led them to his location. In that letter, Shari told her family to not let this ruin their lives.

Shari's sister, Dawn Smith Jordan proves that through tragedy can come triumph. Only a year after her sister was abducted and murdered, she competed for the coveted title of Miss South Carolina.

Dawn won the pageant and placed 2nd in the Miss America pageant that year.

Dawn is now a professional speaker and singer. She spreads her message of hope across the U.S. hoping to help those going through tragedy see that there is hope.

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