EDISON, NJ (MIDDLESEX)–Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Thomas Bryan of the Edison Police Department announced today that authorities are investigating a fire in which one person perished.
Today, at approximately 5:51 A.M., authorities responded to a residence on Poll Place in Edison following a report of a structure fire. Upon their arrival, first responders located an unresponsive man in an upstairs bedroom, who was a friend of the family that had been staying with them. He has been identified as James Thomas, 71, of Edison. Thomas was transported to JFK Hospital where was pronounced deceased.
The cause of death remains undetermined pending the completion of an autopsy by the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office. No firefighters or police officers were injured.
While the investigation is ongoing, a preliminary investigation indicates that the fire is not suspicious in nature and was accidentally caused.
An investigation into the cause of the fire is active and continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Mike Geist of the Edison Police Department at 908-421-4741 or Detective Matthew Colonna of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-3354.
FREEHOLD – A Monmouth County Jury has returned convictions against an Asbury Park man who a little more than two years ago entered a stranger’s home, threatened and robbed two occupants at knifepoint, and sexually assaulted one of them, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Friday.
Shawn Connolly, 36, was found guilty of first-degree Aggravated Sexual Assault, first-degree Armed Robbery, second-degree Burglary, second-degree Sexual Assault, third-degree Making Terroristic Threats, and three related weapons offenses.
Shortly before 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, members of the Asbury Park Police Department responded to a home on 7th Avenue for a 911 call. Upon arrival, they immediately located Connolly and took him into custody without incident, recovering proceeds from the robbery in his pockets.
An investigation by members of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Asbury Park Police Department determined that shortly before the officers’ arrival, the two victims, an adult male and female, suddenly awoke to Connolly in their bedroom wielding a knife and threatening to harm them, having entered through a kitchen window. During the course of the robbery, the female victim was sexually assaulted by Connolly after he ordered the male to leave the room to retrieve cash; as he did so, the male victim also called 911 and left the line open.
Connolly was indicted in November 2021 before the case proceeded to trial earlier this month. Following a little more than two weeks of proceedings before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Henry P. Butehorn, the jury returned guilty verdicts yesterday afternoon.
“Yesterday’s verdict was the end product of a swift initial police response by the Asbury Park Police Department, a diligent follow-up investigation, and an exemplary prosecution,” Prosecutor Santiago said. “The facts revealed at trial were deeply unsettling, and we’re pleased that the jury reached the appropriate conclusion, winning justice for the victims and the community at large.”
This case was tried by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Keri Schaefer and Christopher Ammon. Connolly was represented by John M. Murphy III, Esq., of Staten Island.
Connolly will face a term of up to life in state prison upon sentencing, which has yet to be scheduled. A separate case against Connolly related to a second home invasion that took place in Asbury Park on the same night as this incident has yet to be adjudicated.