O.C. officials warn residents of ‘dangerous’ sex offender released from mental hospital

Undated photo of Cary Jay Smith
Undated photo of Cary Jay Smith, 59, who was sent to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino in 1999.
(O.C. District Attorney’s Office)

A Costa Mesa man who officials say is a “dangerous predator” has been released after spending more than 20 years in a mental hospital, prompting Orange County officials to warn residents and urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to intervene.

Cary Jay Smith, 59, was sent to Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino in 1999 on a 72-hour psychiatric hold after his wife gave a psychiatrist a letter that detailed Smith describing sexual acts he wanted to perform on a 7-year-old boy who lived in his neighborhood, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release on Tuesday.

Since 1999, Smith has been held by the state under a section of the state’s Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC 5300) as a result of a series of civil trials that determined he presented a “demonstrated danger of inflicting substantial physical harm” to children,” the news release stated. He was allowed a new trial every six months to determine whether he was still a threat.


“During those hearings, Smith has repeatedly testified that he fantasizes about raping and then killing young boys in order to avoid being identified,” D.A.’s Office spokesperson Kimberly Edds said in the news release. “He claims that he has killed three boys and molested 200. He prefers to go by the name Mr. RTK, which stands for rape, torture, kill.”

Over the years, psychologists testified that Smith posed an “imminent danger” to the public and the county counsel argued to keep him confined.

However, the state hospital didn’t renew the hold against Smith, allowing it to expire on July 11, the news release stated.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office, which is not a party to the civil hold on Smith, filed 20 felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor against him in 2002, but prosecutors were forced to dismiss the charges due to the statute of limitations at the time, the news release stated.

In 1985, Smith pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sexual offense involving a child and was required to register as a sex offender. That registration was removed in 2005, but Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Michelle Steel and Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer are urging Newsom to reinstate the registration requirement.

“The fact that he is being released back into our community is unconscionable,” Steel said. “We must take this threat to our community very seriously and ensure that everyone in Orange County is aware of this individual’s grave threat to our children.”

Smith was released on Tuesday from Coalinga State Hospital in Fresno County, to which he was transferred at some point, Edds said Wednesday.

He is expected to return to Orange County, where he used to live and still has ties.

“This sexual predator has repeatedly testified under oath that he will reoffend if he is released and we should believe him,” Spitzer said. “As a state legislator, I was the author and founder of the State of California Sex Offender Management Board and the author of Megan’s Law on the Internet, which allows the public to see where these sex offenders are so that they can protect themselves and their families.”

He added, “The public has an absolute right to know that he is coming back into our community, and we will do everything we can to prevent another child from being harmed.”