Killers of the Flower Moon

by

David Grann

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Bill Smith Character Analysis

Mollie’s sister Rita Smith’s husband, and an occasionally violent man. He was previously married to Minnie, but when she died of a mysterious wasting illness in 1917, he remarried Rita. Bill and Rita are murdered in their bed when an explosive device goes off beneath their house in the early morning hours of March 10, 1923.
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Bill Smith Character Timeline in Killers of the Flower Moon

The timeline below shows where the character Bill Smith appears in Killers of the Flower Moon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: The Vanishing
Racism and Exploitation Theme Icon
Family, Legacy, and Trauma Theme Icon
Mathis contacts Mollie, and she, her sister Rita, Rita’s husband Bill Smith, Ernest, and Bryan make their way out to the creek. As Mollie and Rita... (full context)
Chapter 3: King of the Osage Hills
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American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
Family, Legacy, and Trauma Theme Icon
Mollie’s brother-in-law Bill Smith—a “bruising bulldog of a man”—expresses his deep frustration over the authorities’ investigation, wondering whether... (full context)
Chapter 5: The Devil’s Disciples
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The private detectives share their information with Bill Smith, who is married to Mollie’s sister Rita and is conducting his own investigation. Before... (full context)
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Bill takes a private detective to talk to a tailor who is rumored to have some... (full context)
Chapter 7: This Thing of Darkness
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Paranoia takes over Mollie’s family, too, and soon Rita and her husband Bill Smith, after hearing “jostling” outside their home in the middle of the night, move into... (full context)
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On March 9, Bill and a friend drive out to the bootlegger Henry Grammer’s ranch—Bill has told his friend... (full context)
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When Bill and his friend arrive at the ranch, Grammer isn’t there. Bill purchases some whisky anyway,... (full context)
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...the peace, Mathis, and the Shoun brothers search alongside neighbors of the Smiths for bodies. Bill is found alive—but with his legs “seared beyond recognition,” and the rest of his body... (full context)
Chapter 14: Dying Words
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In September of 1925, Tom White begins to wonder whether the slain Bill Smith, Mollie’s brother-in-law, had begun to unravel the truth behind the murders—and whether a larger... (full context)
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White meets with the nurse who had been on duty when Bill was in the hospital in the days after the explosion, and she reveals that shortly... (full context)
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White begins to speculate that the Shouns orchestrated the meeting with Bill Smith not for his testimony, but for another motive entirely: during the meeting, James Shoun... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Hidden Face
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...headrights to her surviving daughters, Mollie and Rita. Rita was the third target, along with Bill, because their wills stipulated that if they died at the same time, their headrights would... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Quick-Draw Artist, the Yegg, and the Soup Man
Racism and Exploitation Theme Icon
American Entitlement, Greed, and Corruption Theme Icon
...Gregg’s gang and told the leader that he’d pay them all $2,000 to “bump off” Bill Smith and his wife. The leader of the gang, Al Spencer, told Hale he wouldn’t,... (full context)
Chapter 18: The State of the Game
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Lawson tells White that in 1918 he worked as a ranch hand for Bill Smith, and also got to know William Hale and his nephews Ernest and Bryan. Lawson... (full context)
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...Lawson’s statement—White issues arrest warrants for William Hale and Ernest Burkhart for the murders of Bill and Rita Smith and their servant Nettie. Burkhart is taken in easily, but Hale is... (full context)
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...Blackie states that Ernest and Hale once approached him and an “old buddy” about killing Bill and Rita Smith, offering Blackie Ernest’s car as payment. Blackie stole Ernest’s car from his... (full context)
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Burkhart tells White that though he didn’t kill Bill and Rita, he knows who did, and wants to tell his story. He reveals that... (full context)
Chapter 19: A Traitor to His Blood
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...wants to admit what he did. He admits to his role in the murders of Bill and Rita, and the courtroom erupts.  (full context)
Chapter 22: Ghostlands
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After stopping at a cemetery to visit the graves of Mollie, Anna, Rita, Minnie, Lizzie, Bill Smith, and other victims of the Reign of Terror, Margie takes Grann over to the... (full context)
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Margie takes Grann to one last stop—the place where Bill and Rita’s house once stood. Another house has since been built on the lot, and... (full context)