Cold Case Wiki
John Harding in 1968
John in 1968
John Harding in 1980
John in 1980
John Harding in 2006
John in 2006
John Harding ("John Doe")
Portrayed by Hallock Beals (1968)
Scott Vickaryous (1980)
Željko Ivanek (2006)
Episode One Night
Status Deceased

Harding first appears in the station asking Detective Rush if she knows about the murder of Steve Jablonski, he then produces a shovel and says this was used to dig the hole. He is then seen sitting in the interview room while Rush and Stillman look over the "will" Harding made Jablonski write and think it looks real enough. Rush then goes into the interview room and asks him his name and he replies 'John Doe' and he feels terrible and "couldn't help killing" Jablonski. He says "You (Rush) look at me and see a quiet simple man, so did he."

Jablonski runs to Harding's car to get a lift to the nearest gas station. Steve introduces himself and Harding introduces himself as John, his real first name. He guesses Steve is 17 or 18. He gives Steve a beer possibly to distract him that he missed the turn for the gas station which Steve notices. Harding tells Jablonski that he's going to die tonight, Steve just laughs it off saying it's funny he then asks Harding to turn around to which he replies he put something in his beer and that Steve will be unconcious in a few minutes. Steve tries to jump out but Harding had removed the door handle and no one can hear Steve for miles. Steve tries unsuccessfully to throw a punch.

Detictive Rush thinks he's lying as he has not told her anything verifiable that is not public information and bids him goodbye. Then, he quotes from the last lines of Steve's "will". Stillman then says they found fresh dirt on the Jablonski shovel and he admits there is another boy and he maybe still alive saying Steve lasted 6 hours in the ground maybe he will too. There was no luck with his prints and only wants to talk about the Jablonski murder. He says his real name isn't important and that knowing it would not help them solve anything. He had Jablonski write his "will" so he could get his life in order and say goodbye. Harding then tells dectives Stillman and Jeffries about the five stages of Death which Steve experienced (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Harding says he wants to meet Jablonski's parents.  Harding says Steve chose the playground because it was where he hit his first homerun and it was the first time he knew his parents were proud of him.

Steve asks him if he wants money and his parents will give Harding money but Harding wants him to think about what he will say in his will. Mrs. Jablonski tries to attack him, screaming "I'll kill you!" He apologizes and claims he didn't mean to upset her. The Jablonskis leave.  Harding says some people only have a locker to call home. Detectives Valens and Vera find a note will the word a "Last Will and Testiment" and finds his second victim, Justin Bradley. Harding abducted Justin in a green minivan. Scotty asks him if he was frequently sleeping with male prostitutes. Scotty hints that Harding may be sexually attracted to Justin saying he liked 17 year old boys to which Harding angrily replies, "Those bastards think they'll live forever!"

Harding took Justin to the field where Justin and his mother rode horses and where he mattered to somebody once, he made Justin tell him why he chose this place. Stillman finds Harding's file: he's divorced, father of two and a high school teacher. Harding is dying of multiple sclerosis. He buried his victims alive to see them die slowly, the way he will. Harding's now ex-wife found out about her husband's illness when their first son was born.

He tells Justin to make sure Valentino gets the note. Justin is feeling regretful of what he should have done and said. Justin then gets into the hole Harding has dug.

Lily goes in the interview room and say she hates the rain because it's so quiet or it was when she pulled the trigger. He never believed he was dying for 26 years, Lilly then says it's the most beautiful thing to die.  Harding's most beautiful memory was jumping from a 100 ft jump into the water which he did. The police find Justin just in time. Jeffries walks him to his cell where he flashes back to his teenage self. John dies in prison off-screen.

Known Victims[]