Police: Ohio suspect asked to confess at NY church

July 25, 2012 - 6:36 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Nine days after a slain woman's body was discovered in a burning home in Ohio, her fugitive boyfriend turned up at a New York City church seeking to make a confession, police said Wednesday.

Authorities in Columbus had charged Jonathan Smith with murder last week after identifying him as a suspect in the death of his girlfriend, Darlene Hart.

Amid a manhunt, Smith showed up Monday at St. Francis of Assisi church in Manhattan and "asked to make a confession," said New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne.

Browne had no information on what Smith said to make clergy call the police, or whether he revealed anything in a confessional. But after NYPD officers arrived, the suspect made statements about the slaying in Ohio, the spokesman said.

Smith, 48, was arrested and waived extradition Wednesday at a brief court appearance. A public defender told the judge Smith's attorney in Ohio had instructed him not to answer questions in New York. Reached by phone, the attorney declined to discuss the case.

A man answering the phone at St. Francis of Assisi on Wednesday said no one there would comment.

On July 14, authorities responding to a report of a fire at a Columbus home discovered Hart's body in first-floor hallway. Police at the time said they were looking for Smith, and that he was driving a white 2006 Acura with Ohio plates.

Police gave an update Friday saying Smith was charged with murdering the 47-year-old victim, but didn't give a cause of death.

On Tuesday, Columbus police said they had dispatched investigators to New York to try to interview Smith. They had no immediate comment on Wednesday.