JACKSON COUNTY, Ind. — Officials with the Versailles post of the Indiana State Police announced Tuesday that a 61-year-old Seymour man has been arrested in relation to a homicide in Jackson County in 1982.
On Tuesday, 61-year-old Ronald Anderson was arrested at his Seymour home on preliminary murder charges. Tuesday is exactly 41 years after 24-year-old Clifford Smith died from a gunshot wound to the head in Jackson County.
According to the release, Smith’s body was found by two animal trappers on Dec. 1, 1982, along the White River near Rockford. This comes after Smith was reported missing by his wife on Nov. 4, 1982. No arrests were made at the time.
Officials said in the release that the case has been passed on to new investigators over the years. A recent investigation into the case determined that Anderson was at a home on East 13th Street with Smith and others, into the late hours of Oct. 30, 1982.
Anderson reportedly retrieved a shotgun from the home, loaded it, and left the home with Smith while armed on Oct. 30, 1982, the release said. Officials allege that Anderson shot Smith during that time. The release said Anderson reportedly returned the gun to the home and then went back to the crime scene to hide “potential evidence.”
Anderson, also known by the nickname “space monkey,” was Smith’s brother-in-law. An affidavit of probable cause related to the incident said that Smith’s wife and Anderson admitted to ISP that they had not been truthful. Smith’s wife eventually gave a statement that implicated Anderson as the person who killed Smith.
On Oct. 30, 1982, Smith’s wife told police that Smith was trying to get her to go home with him, something which she refused because Smith was reportedly drunk. This comes after Smith came to the home with a group of people with some reported stolen property. Smith persisted and the wife “became angry and said, ‘I wish someone would blow your head off.'”
Smith reportedly responded by saying they wouldn’t have to and that he would commit suicide, according to the court documents.
Anderson reportedly told Smith’s wife, who is his sister, that Smith had been “hitting him all day.” The affidavit reads that Anderson retrieved the shotgun and told his sister that he would kill Smith if Smith kept hitting him. Anderson told his sister to “keep her mouth shut about the gun or he (Anderson) would kill her.”
The next day, the affidavit reads that Anderson’s sister noticed the shotgun was placed back in the corner of the room where it had originally been located, something that she questioned Anderson about. Anderson claimed that he put it back before he left with Smith the night before.
“(Anderson) told (his sister) several different stories about what happened the night before,” the affidavit reads. “All stories ended with (Smith) leaving and going home, however (Anderson) threatened (his sister) not to say anything about the shotgun or she would end up dead.”
Anderson continued to make threats to the wife in December 1982, when Indiana State Police questioned both about Smith’s death. Anderson blamed another person for the homicide, reportedly changing his story multiple times to ISP over the years.
In 2014, detectives found that Smith’s death certificate was still pending from 1982. At the time, the coroner’s verdict suggested that Smith died of a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.” In 2016, additional tips came in from family members and investigators began to investigate the incident as a homicide.
In 2016, Anderson was interviewed again by ISP, according to the affidavit, claiming that another person shot Smith that day. In 2021, Anderson reportedly refused to be a part of the investigation any longer.
“The Indiana State Police continues to investigate all unsolved murder cases. All of these cases are continuously assigned to a detective for active investigation,” the release said. “The Indiana State Police is committed to solving previously unsolved cases to provide closure to the family and to make an arrest so those responsible for these crimes are held accountable and prosecuted in court.”