Judge Holds Man Responsible For Second Wife's Death
January 4, 2002 at 6:34 PM EST - Updated July 1 at 8:40 AM
AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A New Jersey judge ruled that a former Medina County man, convicted of killing his first wife, is responsible for his second wife's apparent death.
Betty Fran Gladden-Smith has been missing since she disappeared from her condominium in Princeton, N.J., in 1991.
Judge Maria Sypek ruled Thursday in a civil case that John David Smith, who was convicted last year in Wayne County Common Pleas Court for the murder of Janice Hartman of Doylestown, also murdered Gladden-Smith.
Sypek, of Mercer Vicinage Superior Court in Trenton, N.J., said Smith devised a plan to destroy evidence and conceal the body, according to court documents.
Gladden-Smith's daughter, Deanna Weiss, 36, of Houston, was awarded $1 million in the wrongful death claim.
"We don't ever expect to collect on it," Weiss said, "but it's still good news for us, because maybe it's all we'll get to hold him accountable."
Smith, 51, is in Trumbull Correctional Institution, serving 15 years to life for Hartman's 1974 murder.
He has appealed his conviction to the 9th Ohio District Court of Appeals in Akron.
Weiss said she hopes that he will be prosecuted criminally in her mother's case.
"Now that the news is out there that he's locked up and put away, maybe somebody who knows something will come forward and say something," Weiss said.
(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)