Thursday, October 05, 2000

Man to face murder charge in wife's death

The Associated Press

        WOOSTER, Ohio — A California man who was arrested in the slaying of his first wife nearly 26 years after her disappearance in Ohio will be returned to Wayne County to face a murder charge.

        Escondido, Calif., police and the FBI on Tuesday arrested John David Smith III, 49, of Oceanside, Calif.

        Mr. Smith could be returned here as early as next week to face the charge in the death of Janice Hartman, said Wayne County Prosecutor Martin Frantz.

        An extradition hearing was scheduled for Wednesday.

        Mr. Smith reported Ms. Hartman, 23, missing from her home in Doylestown a few days after their divorce in 1974. She was never seen again, and the cause of her death is unknown.

        Mr. Smith became a suspect in Ms. Hartman's death in 1991 after the disappearance of his second wife, Fran Gladden, 49, of West Windsor, N.J., said Jocelyn Stefancin, a Wayne County prosecutor.

        He is also the “prime suspect” in the disappearance of Ms. Gladden, Ms. Stefancin said. Ms. Gladden has not been found.

        Authorities only confirmed that Ms. Hartman was dead this year after examining unidentified skeletal remains found in 1980 along a rural road near Morocco, Ind., she said.

        A Wayne County grand jury indicted Mr. Smith in August. If found guilty, he could face life in prison, Mr. Frantz said.


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