LAkeland Murder

Suspect Indicted In April Lakeland Homicide Case

LAKELAND, Fla. – On Friday, a Polk County Grand Jury indicted John Ward Smith, of Lakeland, in connection with a homicide that occurred in the area of West Crawford St. in Northwest Lakeland on April 10, 2021.

Smith, age 37, was charged with one count of First Degree Murder. Smith was already in custody and has been held in the Polk County Jail since April 14 and recently charged with First Degree Murder for the killing of an inmate.

On April 10, 2021, Lakeland Police Department officers responded to a residence in the 500 block of W. Crawford St. for a missing person report.

The 42-year-old male victim was last seen at approximately 7:00 a.m., and the person that called police had been unable to reach him by phone or text.

Upon arriving back at the home, the caller found blood underneath a vehicle in the driveway. The investigation led to the victim’s body being discovered inside another vehicle on the property. An autopsy conducted by the Medical Examiner’s Office found the death to be a homicide. 

Members of the Lakeland Police Department Violent Crimes Unit have conducted numerous interviews related to this case, and the investigation remains open and active.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to contact Detective Troy Smith at 863.834.8958 or

To remain anonymous, and possibly be eligible for a reward, contact Heartland Crime Stoppers Florida -call 1-800-226-TIPS (8477), dial **TIPS from your cell phone, visit the website and click “Submit A Tip,” or download the free “P3tips” app on your smartphone or tablet.

The name of the victim is being withheld in accordance with Marsy’s Law.

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