Police have made an arrest in connection with a decades-old Indiana cold case murder of a man who was fatally shot on Halloween in 1982.
Ronald J. Anderson, 61, was arrested “without incident” Tuesday — exactly 41 years after the shooting — for the murder of 24-year-old Clifford Smith in rural Jackson County on October 31, 1982, Indiana State Police announced.
Smith’s wife reported him missing on November 4, 1982, and his body was found by animal trappers less than a month later near the White River, just north of Seymour, police said. Investigators determined Smith suffered a gunshot wound to the head. No arrests were made at the time.
Sgt. Kip Main of the Indiana State Police, who has been investigating the case since 2015, determined that Anderson and Smith were at the same residence on E. 13th St. with other people on the night of October 30. The investigation indicated that Anderson took a shotgun from the residence and loaded it, police said. He left with the gun and got into a car with Smith, who was never seen alive again after they left the residence.
Photo: Indiana State Police
“Information gathered during the investigation indicated that Anderson was responsible for the death of Smith,” Indiana State Police said in a statement Tuesday. “Anderson also allegedly returned the murder weapon back to the home on 13th Street and returned to the crime scene soon after the murder to hide potential evidence.”
What has Clifford Smith's family said about an arrest being made 41 years after his death?
"I'm glad that they finally are bringing a closure to this, allowing us to let our brother rest in peace," Smith’s brother Leonard Smith told ABC-affiliate WHAS-TV. Leonard said he had always believed that Anderson was responsible for his brother’s death. "We've always said that's who done it; our whole family knew that he done it," he said.
Sgt. Stephen Wheeles told the news outlet that the arrest in the case came after "more recent investigative techniques, and it ultimately led to where we had enough information to present the case to a prosecutor."
Wheeles told People that the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office approved Anderson’s arrest last week.
“Obviously we’re dealing with the Smith family who hasn't had justice in all these years,” Wheeles told People. “We could not let another anniversary of Clifford’s death go by without giving his family answers to what they’ve dealt with for decades.”
Anderson is being held in the Jackson County Jail pending an initial court appearance.