Saturday, October 21, 2000

Suspect in wife's death remains in jail

The Associated Press

        WOOSTER, Ohio — A man charged with killing his wife, who disappeared 26 years ago, will be held without bond until his trial, a prosecutor said.

        At a bond hearing Friday, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Jocelyn Stefancin said John David Smith III, 49, likely committed the crime and would be a threat to the community if he was released from the county jail. A trial date has not been set.

        Mr. Smith, a former Seville resident who most recently lived in Oceanside, Calif., pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder charges Oct. 11, in Wayne County Common Pleas Court.

        He is accused of killing Janice Hartman, 23, his first wife.

        Mr. Smith reported her missing from her Wayne County home a few days after their divorce in 1974. If convicted, he could face life in prison. Mr. Smith became a suspect in Mr. Hartman's death in 1991 after the disappearance of his second wife, Fran Gladden, 49, of West Windsor, N.J., Ms. Stefancin said. Ms. Gladden, who vanished within days of having hip surgery, was never found.

        Authorities only confirmed that Ms. Hartman was dead this year after determining skeletal remains found in 1980 in a box along a rural road near Morocco, Ind., were hers. The cause of death hasn't been determined.

        Ms. Stefancin said FBI Special Agent Roy Spear testified Friday that after Ms. Hartman's disappearance someone saw Mr. Smith building a box that was similar in size to the one found in Indiana.

        Mr. Smith's attorney, Kirk Migdal of Akron, could not be reached for comment Friday.


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