Former West Windsor Township resident indicted for murder

A former West Windsor Township man, who is serving 15 years to life in an Ohio prison for murder, has been indicted for killing his wife in 1991, when the couple  lived in the Canal Pointe development in West Windsor Township.

A Mercer County grand jury returned the indictment Nov. 20, charging John Smith with the murder of his wife, Betty Smith, in West Windsor Township. Her body has never been found, despite an extensive investigation by state and federal investigators.

John Smith, who is now 68-years-old, was indicted on one count each of first-degree murder and fourth-degree tampering with evidence, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said.

A petition will be filed to bring John Smith back to Mercer County for an arraignment, but there is no scheduled court date at this time.

John Smith reported his wife missing from their Canal Pointe apartment on Oct. 4, 1991. She was last seen alive on Sept. 28 at their apartment, the prosecutor’s office said. They had moved to New Jersey from Florida four months earlier.

Investigators discovered that John Smith had previously been married to Janice Hartman in Ohio. She was reported missing in 1974, three days after their divorce was finalized.

The investigation into that missing persons case was reopened when Ohio police learned that John Smith had remarried and his second wife – Betty Smith – had also been reported missing.

Hartman’s body was discovered in a box that had been dumped on the side of a road in Indiana. The remains were positively identified as Hartman’s in 2000, and John Smith was charged with her murder. He was convicted in 2001 of murdering her.

Although Betty Smith’s body has never been recovered, New Jersey law does not preclude a finding that she is dead, the prosecutor’s office said. The concealment or destruction of the victim’s body also does not stop the prosecution of the killer.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, the West Windsor Police Department and the New Jersey State Police, along with the Wayne County (Ohio) Sheriff’s Office and the Milford (Conn.) Police Department took part in the investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Mercer County Homicide Task Force at 609-989-6406, or by email to mchtftips@mercercounty.org.