Man confesses killing to priest, who calls the cops


Jonathan Smith, on the run from Ohio, was so desperate to come clean that he grabbed the first priest he could find at a Midtown church and copped to bludgeoning his girlfriend 500 miles away, sources told The Post.

“Someone is dead, and I feel really bad about it,” Smith, 48, told the startled clergyman at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi on West 31st Street, according to a law-enforcement source.

“He just grabbed a priest and said, ‘I want to tell you something,’ ” said another priest at the church, who asked to remain anonymous.

The priest whom Smith approached quickly contacted the Midtown South precinct house, and detectives took the suspect’s more formal confession.

“He says, ‘I killed my girlfriend in Columbus, Ohio,’ ” a law-enforcement source told The Post.

Smith had been on the lam since July 14, when cops found Darlene Hart, 48, dead in their three-bedroom house.

A fire had been set near her battered body in an apparent attempt to destroy evidence, authorities said…

…When he came clean Monday, “It was the man’s desire to turn himself in,” not to make a formal, sacramental confession, explained the fellow priest at St. Francis.

Priests are strictly barred from divulging any information from confessions, explained Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the New York Archdiocese.

“But if someone is going down the street and happens to say, ‘Hi, Father, I killed Bob,’ that’s another thing entirely,” Zwilling said.

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