Woman forgives man convicted of murdering her brother

DURHAM (WTVD) -- "I really do hope he finds God and finds eternal life in paradise regardless of what he did to my brother."

That's the wish Rebecca Smith-Callejas said she has for Andrew Scheper, the man convicted of murdering and decapitating her brother.

On Jan. 19, volunteers with a church youth group were cleaning up a pond near East Club Boulevard. There, they found the body of 38-year-old Trinity Smith. He had been decapitated.

"My brother is now a distant memory, he is no longer in the flesh, we'll never have memories with him again, and we'll never have another Christmas again," said Smith-Callejas.

Trinity Smith

Sources close to the investigation at the time told ABC11 that investigators found blood evidence inside the apartment Smith shared with Scheper.

Smith-Callejas said her brother had just moved back to Durham from Denver. He came home to be closer to his ailing grandfather and to help his mother.

"He was just a very funny, very caring, genuine person. He really did love very hard, he loved his family," she said.

Her brother met Scheper at a job resource center and Scheper offered him a room to rent, according to Smith-Callejas. She said the two had only lived together for five days before they stopped hearing from her brother.

That was around Thanksgiving.

Scheper was eventually arrested in Carrboro on Jan. 27. On Thursday, Dec. 10, Scheper was sentenced 18 to 23 years in prison for second degree murder. Smith's sister was in court that day.

"They rehashed everything, they talked about the blood splatter, the decapitation," she said. "Just reliving that, reliving everything that had happened over the course of a year all in one day, it was really hard, that was the first time I was really emotional in a long time."

She said the only motive behind the attack was a history of mental illness. Scheper thought Smith was sent by God to hurt him, according to Smith-Callejas.

"That was even harder to hear, that nothing had really happened, that there wasn't an outbreak of a fight, throwing things or self- defense," said Smith-Callejas. "There was absolutely no rhyme or reason for my brother to be killed."

Despite everything, she is choosing to forgive.

"We actually did tell Andy that we genuinely and whole heartedly forgave him for what he did to my brother," said Smith-Callejas. "That's our belief, and apart from that, that's who my brother is, he was a genuinely very forgiving person."

And now as the family gets ready for yet another Christmas without Smith, they are trying to take comfort in what they do have of him.

"He's now a picture on a wall, a photo in a frame on a dresser," said Smith-Callejas. "My memories with him are the most cherished memories I have with anyone and that's really all I have and all I have to move forward with especially with it being the holidays. This is going to be a difficult time."

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