Editor's NOTE: Angelo Smith is in prison for the murder of a young mother from Guilford County. It's a murder mystery that captivated the Triad for months back in 2014 as our community rallied together to find Bianca Tanner.
For the first time, we hear from Bianca's killer. WFMY News 2’s Chad Silber went behind the walls of Central Prison in Raleigh. He admits this was not an easy interview to do. Silber did not want to give Smith a platform. Smith confessed to the crime but we've never known why it happened.
This is his account of what happened. Bianca's family did not want to be part of this story, and we all understand why.
It's the first time we're seeing Angelo Smith since he was sent here to Central Prison a year and a half ago. Dressed in brown prison clothes and white tennis shoes, Smith seems adjusted to this new normal. But he certainly hasn't forgotten.
"The circumstances under which I'm here are on my mind every day," admitted Smith. He’s been in Central Prison since 2016, when he pleaded guilty to Manslaughter, Kidnapping, Concealment of a Death and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. They’re all charges related to the death of his girlfriend, Bianca Tanner.
The crime happened two years earlier on June 7th, 2014 at their Charlotte apartment. Tanner had moved there just days prior from Guilford County where she taught at Reedy Fork Elementary. Smith took us back to that day, which he said started like many others.
"Went to some parks to hang out with her son and when we got back home that day, the plan was to lay her son down and then for us to have some time alone," remembered Smith.
Smith said he took a nap and awoke to Tanner upset about a text message he received on his new work phone. It was from an unknown number referring to him as *sweetie.*
"It sounded like I was lying because I didn't have an answer for who these text messages were from and it was clearly from a woman because she was calling somebody sweetie," Said Smith.
The text, which Charlotte Mecklenburg Police later confirmed was actually meant for someone else, led to a fight. Smith claimed Tanner pulled a gun, then a knife on him. We haven't been able to confirm those claims.
In court, the prosecution said that's when Smith confessed to putting her in a chokehold until she stopped fighting.
"What I was attempting to do was just sort of restrain her in a way to where she wasn't able to face me and stab me with this knife until she calmed down,” said Smith. “But in the middle of that, her body seized up, I believe she had a seizure. She fell to the ground, her eyes were rolled into the back of her head and there was foam coming out of her mouth."
Smith said he immediately panicked. "After I sort of came out of my freeze-up moment, I called my frat brother. My whole goal was to say alright if I'm going to call the police, emergency authorities, I don't want to face this situation alone."
At some point during that phone call, the plans changed and the pair decided not to call police.
"As Black men, do we sit here and call the authorities who might be just as likely to kill us when they come and respond to this situation, like they've done in recent history," said Smith.
So, they decided to dump her body in the woods.
"We ended up saying, I don't know if it'll be a good idea to call the authorities and maybe it might be better to just act like the situation happened and cover it up and take it to the grave."
Silber asked Smith what was going through his mind in that moment when he took her body into the woods by Lake Wylie and just dumped her.
"I was just gone at that point, like I said, it just didn't feel real anymore,” replied Smith. “The best way to explain it is like I was in the Twilight Zone, it felt like I just sort of lifted out of my body and just sort of was watching this situation play out and I wasn't even there."
Smith remembered the next month as family, friends and police looked for any signs of Bianca. "I wanted to keep believing that I would just wake up and it hadn't happened, if you can believe that or not. I was just hoping that I could just go to sleep and wake up and it was just a bad dream really."
Smith says he stopped going to work and cut off his social life. The police questioned him constantly.
"I would talk to the police and take some Xanax before I talked to them and just really sort of calm down and tell them the whole truth about everything that happened up until the way things played out," remembered Smith.
Nearly a month after Bianca died, Smith's fraternity brother led police to her body. Police arrested Smith and charged him with First Degree Murder.
Unfortunately, Bianca's body was so decomposed, they couldn't figure out how she died. Because of that, Smith was offered a plea deal and he avoided a possible First-Degree Murder conviction.
"It's been a nightmare for everybody involved,” added Smith. “The impact that a catastrophe has on everybody that's connected to you, it weighs very heavily on you."
Silber asked him what he'd say to Bianca's family now especially her mother.
"I'm sorry. It's not enough obviously,” admitted Smith. “I don't think any words I can say would really be enough for me to apologize. I feel terrible about the fact that I lied to her family at first about it because I don’t have anything against her family. I completely understand the negative feelings that they might still have for me and that they had for me at the time.”
You might be wondering what happened to Bianca's three-year-old son. He was home that night but Smith says he slept through it.
Smith was convicted of contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor for leaving him home, when he dumped Bianca's body.
We reached out to Bianca's family to include them in this story but, as you can imagine, it's still too much to talk about it.
On top of that, this Thursday would've been Bianca's birthday.