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John D. Smith III (born 1951) is a convicted murderer who killed his first and second wives. Additionally skull fragments were found in a locker owned by him that belonged to an unidentified woman.

Smith's case was documented in a Lifetime movie, an episode of Cold Case Files and the book Stranger in my Bed.

Relationship with Janice Hartman

Smith married Janice Hartman around June 30, 1970 when they were both 19. A troubled marriage ensued; Gary Hartman, Janice's brother, said that Smith was abusive when he visited the couple for the first time. Hartman left Smith in 1974 and headed back to Ohiomarker intending to divorce him. A few days later, after filing for divorce, she disappeared.


Soon after Hartman went missing, Smith's brother Michael observed him building a narrow box at their grandfather's house which John claimed was to contain some of Janice's belongings. In 1979 their grandfather discovered the box and called Michael. He opened the box to find a dismembered corpse with rainbow hair which he believed to be Janice Hartman's body. He notified his brother of the discovery. John stopped by the residence, picked up the box and headed to Indianamarker to dispose of the body.

Smith's second wife Fran Gladden-Smith disappeared from West Windsor Township, New Jerseymarker on October 4, 1991. Prior to her disappearance, she had been unable to leave her home due to a broken hip.

Investigation and prosecution

Michael Smith, guilt-ridden from the knowledge of what his brother had done, turned to drinking, but kept his secret until 1999. That year he revealed the facts of his gruesome discovery to an FBImarker agent investigating the disappearances of John Smith's wives. Police in Ohio and Indiana were issued a notice to be on the lookout for such a box. It was subsequently discovered that the box was found in 1980 in an Indiana cornfield.

Smith was tried and convicted for the murder of Janice Hartman in 2000 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.


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