Indiana authorities recently arrested a 61-year-old man, Ronald Jack Anderson, marking a shocking turn in a cold case that dates back over four decades. Anderson is accused of the brutal murder of 24-year-old Clifford Smith, whose body was found in December 1982 alongside the White River, presenting a grisly scene. Authorities reported that Smith’s head had suffered significant damage due to shotgun fire.
On the fateful day of Dec. 1, 1982, Smith was discovered by two animal trappers, face-up in a shallow pool of water. Officials noted that a substantial portion of his head, including an area near the ear, was missing, with extensive buckshot penetration. The investigation at the time considered suicide as a possibility, based on the coroner’s initial assessment and the positioning of the gunshot.
However, the case took a turn when Smith’s identification was found on his body. His wife had reported him missing since November 4, just over a month after he was last seen. According to her statements, Smith and Anderson, who were brothers-in-law, had arrived at a residence on 13th Street late on October 30 with purportedly stolen items. An argument ensued when Smith, under the influence of alcohol, insisted his wife accompany him home, which she refused.
The argument escalated, and in a fit of anger, Smith’s wife expressed a wish for someone to “blow your head off” directed at Smith. Following this, there was an altercation where Smith allegedly struck Anderson. What followed were threats, a shotgun placed in Smith’s car, and an evening that ended tragically. Anderson, over the years, gave conflicting accounts of the events that night, varying in who was responsible for Smith’s death and the circumstances surrounding it.
In a chilling twist, Anderson advised his sister not to touch Smith’s car, which he claimed to have parked at Shields Park, and mentioned cleaning his fingerprints off the shotgun. He also repeatedly threatened her to maintain silence about the shotgun. Despite his varied narratives over the years, Anderson’s recent avoidance of revisiting the crime scene and his frayed nerves, as noted in 2021, added to the suspicions.
Now detained at the Jackson County Jail, Anderson’s arrest marks a significant development in a case that remained unresolved for 41 years, weaving a complex tale of family ties, a disputed homicide, and a long-awaited arrest.