Jack Smith, baby Gabriel case: Key player in Elizabeth Johnson case remembered at funeral

PAYSON, AZ - A death investigation is now front and center after a key player in the already mysterious case surrounding missing baby Gabriel Johnson.

Jack Smith died just days before the baby's mom, Elizabeth Johnson, was released from prison. Johnson had said Smith and his wife were helping her find a couple to adopt her son, who has yet to be found.

RELATED: Elizabeth Johnson released from prison at 12:04 a.m. July 11

Smith was remembered Tuesday during a service in Payson.

"Well it's hard to put into words what Jack meant to me along with our family," said Ernest Spears, Smith's brother in law.

Smith was 60-years-old when he died. Police said he was in a single-vehicle rollover crash in Payson on July 7, but suffered only minor injuries. One day later, officials said he suffered a heart attack at his home.

"To get the call the next morning that he was gone, well that's something that's hard to explain," Spears said.

Spears said his wife spoke with her brother just hours before he passed away.

"Talking to him as late as last Monday night at ten o'clock and assuring her everything was OK and he was going to be out playing this last weekend," Spears said.

Jack was a musician, he played the steel guitar. But his seat now sits empty. It's especially tough on his wife, Tammi.

"She didn't have the chance to say goodbye. You didn't have the chance to say this is coming and so emotions are very raw right now," Spears said.

A family in mourning, a wife and two young daughters left to pick up the pieces.  Questions remain as the Payson Police Department looks into Jack's death, calling it "suspicious."

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