John William Smith Jr. Held in Stabbing Death of Girlfriend, Elaine Coleman

To friends and neighbors, Elaine Coleman was a cheerful smiling face, but at home she struggled in a troubled relationship with a convicted killer.

Coleman, 47, was found dead in her apartment on Dec. 4. Her body was so badly injured that responding medics initially believed she had been shot in the face. An autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed— 41 times— and had been nearly decapitated. Some of the wounds could have been inflicted using a pair of scissors, the medical examiner noted.

Police say Coleman’s boyfriend, John William Smith Jr, is responsible for her violent death. He appeared in court Wednesday to be presented with the charge of second-degree murder while armed. Charging documents do not state what the weapon he is believed to have been armed with is.

According to witness accounts included in the charging documents, Coleman and Smith, 46, had a tumultuous relationship. One person said Smith was “possessive” of Coleman and would frequently call her to see where she was and who she was with. Coleman would kick Smith out of her house, “infuriating” him, the charging documents say.

The disagreements may have intensified when Smith received a financial settlement, a witness said. When told of the money, Coleman asked that Smith assist her in paying her mortgage. The witness said Smith said that if Coleman was using him for his money he would kill her. He added that he had served time for manslaughter.

Charging documents elaborate that Smith pleaded guilty in Baltimore in 2005 to a count of manslaughter. He had been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in a stabbing death in which a pair of scissors was used as the murder weapon.

Smith was ordered held Wednesday and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 18 with Judge Ronna Beck.

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