Category: Ocean County

Man Charged With 5 Counts Of Arson In Manchester Township

November 26, 2022

Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Manchester Township Chief of Police Robert Dolan announced that on November 23, 2022, Nicholas Depalma, 77, of Whiting, was charged with four counts of Aggravated Arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a (2) and one count of Aggravated Arson in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:17-1a (5), in connection with a series of fires that were set between January 1, 2022 and April 26, 2022, in Manchester Township.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad and the Manchester Township Police Department determined that Depalma was responsible for setting a series of five separate dumpster fires, in Manchester Township between the dates of January 1, 2022 and April 26, 2022. Four of the fires were set in proximity to structures causing damage to them and one of the fires was set near a large wooded area.

On November 23, 2022, Depalma surrendered himself to Manchester Township Police Headquarters where he was processed and released on a summons – as a consequence of bail reform, pending a future appearance in Ocean County Superior Court.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Dolan commends the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad and the Manchester Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit and Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office for their collaborative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Depalma’s arrest.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

R.P.C.  3.6(b)(6).


Toms River Police Department Responds To Multiple Serious Calls In 12 Hour Period Thanksgiving Weekend

November 26, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Police say that on November 25, 2022 at approximately 2:55 p.m., police officers were dispatched to a residence for a reported disorderly person suffering from mental illness. Once on scene, officers spoke with the victim who stated that she had just been assaulted and the suspect was in his bedroom with a knife. After observing the suspect with the knife in his hand, officers safely removed all parties from the residence and began to speak with the suspect. Over the course of nearly two hours, Officer Kristi Stebila developed a rapport with the suspect and was able to talk him into coming out of the residence peacefully. He was charged with 3rd Degree Aggravated Assault and Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and transported to Community Medical Center for mental health treatment.

“I’d like to commend Officer Kristi Stebila for her effectiveness, compassion, and patience while speaking with the suspect, as well as officers Damon Korpon, Robert King, and Kevin Corrigan for their professionalism, and ensuring the safety of everyone in the residence. On a daily basis, mental health calls are among the most dangerous. I could not be more proud of all of my officers for their dedication to making sure at the end of the day everyone goes home safe.” ~Chief Mitch Little

At approximately 3:00 p.m., November 25, 2022, police officers received an alert from the Jackson Police Department for a vehicle wanted regarding a burglary within their jurisdiction. About forty minutes later, while on patrol, Sergeant Shan Ruiz located the vehicle and the operator, Juan Alston, twenty-seven of Toms River, on Green View Way. Officers from the Jackson Police Department responded to the scene, subsequently taking Mr. Alston into custody and transporting him back to their Department.

On November 26, 2022 at approximately 2:25 a.m., Toms River Police and EMS were dispatched to the intersection of Hooper Avenue and South Shore Drive for a reported motor vehicle accident involving an entrapment. Upon arrival, the vehicle was located in the marsh, flipped over with the occupants trapped inside. The two passengers were uninjured and manage to free themselves but the driver, Paolo Helfers-Lariva, 28 of Toms River, was trapped and submerged in the water. Multiple officers enter the water in an attempt to free the driver. With the assistance of Silverton EMS and Silverton Fire Department, the driver is eventually freed and CPR was immediately initiated. Mr. Helfers-Lariva was transported to Community Medical Center where, after extensive efforts, he was ultimately pronounced. The initial investigation revealed that the vehicle was travelling at a high rate of speed heading south on Hooper Avenue when it lost control and left the roadway and struck a pole before overturning in the marsh. Also assisting on scene was the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department CSI Unit. The accident remains under investigation by Toms River Traffic Safety Officer, Corporal Terry Warren.

On November 26, 2022 at approximately 2:40 a.m. Toms River Police units were dispatched to the intersection of Ocean View Drive and Brookside Drive for a reported motor vehicle accident. The initial investigation revealed Esmeralda Menes, 24 of Lakehurst, had crashed into a concrete wall on a residential property. She was placed under arrest and charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, and failure to maintain lane. The accident is being investigated by Officer Anthony Claps.

On November 26, 2022 at approximately 3:45 p.m. Toms River Police units were dispatched to the intersection of Route 37 and Hooper Avenue for a reported motor vehicle accident. Horst Szczypinski, 78 of South Toms River, was in the left lane headed westbound on Route 37 East when he may have suffered from a medical episode, and ran off of the road up onto the center median striking multiple light stanchions, and coming to final rest in the intersection. Off Duty Seaside Park Officer Ryan Stack pulled up on the crash, and along with good samaritians, broke the vehicle window to remove Mr. Szczypinski from the vehicle and began CPR. He was then assisted by multiple TRPD officers who provided oxygen, utilized a defibrillator, and continued CPR. A pulse was regained, and Mr. Szczypinski was transported to Community Medical Center, he was alert and talking to the medics. The NJDOT responded to the scene to repair the lights. Also assisting on scene was the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department. The accident remains under investigation by Traffic Safety Officer Adam Koeppen.

The media and the public are reminded that criminal charges are accusations only. Every criminal defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.


Fire Department SUV Crashes Into Utility Pole And Overturns; Driver Extricated, Flown To Jersey Shore By Medevac Helicopter

November 23, 2022

Official Update from Manchester Township Police Department below:

MANCHESTER, NJ (OCEAN)–Manchester Police say that on Tuesday, November 22, 2022, at approximately 10:05 p.m., officers from the Manchester Township Police Department responded to the area of County Route 571 and Richard Road in the Ridgeway Section of town to investigate a motor vehicle crash involving an overturned vehicle with an entrapped driver.

Upon arrival, officers observed an overturned 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe and a utility pole which was severed at its base with downed wires.  The Chevrolet had sustained extensive damage and was partially suspended by low voltage wires.  The investigation revealed that the Chevrolet, a marked Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department vehicle, was travelling westbound on CR 571 after responding to a call for service.  The Chevrolet subsequently drifted off the roadway to the right and struck a utility pole.  Following impact, the Chevrolet became airborne before striking the low voltage wires and overturning on its passenger side, sustaining extensive damage to the entire vehicle.  The impact with the pole pulled a wire from a nearby residence.  The wire ultimately struck the 2017 Sutphen Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department fire truck which was following the Chevrolet, causing minor damage to the front end.

The driver of the Chevrolet, identified as 43-year-old Brian Flanagan of Manchester, was extricated from the vehicle and transported via Medevac helicopter to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for treatment and evaluation of non-life threatening injuries.  The driver of the Sutphen, Michael Trimarchi, 53 of Manchester, and the front seat passenger, Stephen Newnom 31 of Manchester, were uninjured in the crash. 

Assisting at the scene were members of the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Department, Manchester Volunteer Fire Department, Whiting Volunteer Fire Department, Pleasant Plains Volunteer Fire Department, Manchester Township Emergency Medical Services, Robert Wood Johnson Paramedics, RWJ Life Flight, and Accurate Towing. The roadway was closed for several hours during the investigation and cleanup. 

Last night’s MidJersey.News breaking story here:


Accurate Towing Service up righted the vehicle and towed away with a heavy duty wrecker Accurate Towing photo.


Overturned Fire Chief’s Vehicle In Manchester NJ

November 22, 2022

Update here:

MANCHESTER, NJ (OCEAN)–Around 10:00 p.m. there was a report of a fire department chief’s vehicle overturned in the 2800 Block of Ridgeway Road, County Road 571 near the Ridgeway Fire Company and Manchester Middle School. There were reports of live electrical lines down with a person trapped in the vehicle. Jersey Central Power & Light JCP&L was called to cut the power so the person could be removed from the vehicle. The medevac helicopter Life Flight was called to land at the Manchester Middle School near the accident scene. At 10:57 p.m. the medical helicopter crew reported that they have not had contact with the patient and that extrication is in progress.

Update at 11:20 p.m. the helicopter crew reports they will be transporting the patient to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Update: 11:29 the helicopter landed at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Accurate Towing Service up righted the vehicle and towed away with a heavy duty wrecker

8:30 a.m. update sources say that the he is expected to be released from the hospital this morning.

This is a breaking news report, and the scene is still active. Please check back the story will be updated as information becomes available. Official details will not be available until sometime tomorrow.


Driver Under The Influence Crashes Into Toms River Home

November 21, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Police reported that on Monday, November 20, 2022, at approximately 11:35 p.m., police and fire units were dispatched to Frann Road for a reported motor vehicle accident involving a vehicle into a house. The initial investigation revealed that Kevin E. Cannon, 24 of Toms River, was traveling north on Frann Road when he drove off the roadway and through the front door of a residence, ultimately coming to rest in the living room. He was arrested and charged with driving under the influence.

Multiple fire companies responded, along with Freedom Towing, to remove the vehicle from the residence. The Building Department also responded and deemed the home unsafe. Mr. Cannon was issued citations for driving under the influence, reckless driving, and failure to maintain lane. His vehicle was impounded as per John’s Law. The homeowners were home at the time of the incident, but were not injured. The incident remains under investigation by Officer Nicholas Lugo.


2-Alarm Fire Reported In Jackson Township

November 17, 2022

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Jackson Township Fire Departments were dispatched 624 Maria Street for a structure fire at 4:18 p.m. on Wednesday, November 16, 2022. Upon arrival firefighters reported a fully involved manufactured home and a second alarm was called for 4:23 p.m. One person needed to be checked for smoke inhalation. Firefighters quickly knocked down the fire.

No additional details are available at this time.


Transmission Shop Burns; Temporarily Closes Route 539 in Plumsted Township

November 17, 2022

PLUMSTED TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Plumsted Township/New Egypt firefighters responded to the 400 Block of Route 539 also known as Pinehurst Road around 12:00 p.m. and found a 50 x 60-foot Transmission Shop heavily involved in fire. Mutual aid was called from several area departments including Upper Freehold Township-Allentown, Millstone Township, Jackson Township, Cookstown, Jacobstown, and others. A tanker task force responded to bring water to the scene and firefighters used hand lines and two ladders for master stream operations. The fire was contained quickly but firefighters remained on scene for quite some time overhauling the fire. A helicopter was called for a burn victim from the structure fire and a landing zone was set up at New Egypt Speedway but the helicopter was recalled and the person was transported by ground to a local hospital. It appears that the business owner lost everything since the entire building was consumed by fire. The fire is currently under investigation. Additional details will be posted as they become available.






Memorial Gathering To Be Held For Kellen Bischoff Of Manahawkin, NJ, Who Passed Away In Tragic Accident In Pennsylvania

November 16, 2022

Kellen Joseph Bischoff age 19 of Manahawkin, NJ died Saturday November 12, 2022.  Kellen was a lifelong resident of Manahawkin and graduate from Southern Regional High School class of 2022.  A member of the National Honor Society and the Southern Regional Rams wrestling team, his fun-loving personality was infectious and left an impression on all who knew him. Kellen recently started to follow his passion for music with Full Sail University and the sound of his drums could be heard echoing across the winds of Ocean Acres. Continue to pound those skins our mighty Irish warrior and we will be listening and we will hear you.

He is survived by his parents Patty (nee: Flanagan) and Mike Bischoff of Manahawkin, beloved twin brother Nathaniel & little sister Raegan, and his dogs Sullivan and Finnegan.  Also, surviving are his cherished aunts, uncles and cousins.  

A memorial gathering will take place on Sunday, November 20, 2022 from 2pm to 6pm with a blessing service, 6pm at Maxwell-Tobie Funeral Home, 573 Mill Creek Road, Manahawkin, NJ 08050.

In lieu of flowers, a donation may be made in his memory to one of the following organizations: www.PointerRescue.orgwww.HappyPawsRescue.org or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at www.StJude.org

Services

MEMORIAL GATHERING

Sunday
November 20, 2022
2:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Maxwell-Tobie Funeral Home & Cremation Service, LLC – Manahawkin
573 Mill Creek Road
Manahawkin, NJ 08050


BLESSING SERVICE

Sunday
November 20, 2022
6:00 PM
Maxwell-Tobie Funeral Home & Cremation Service, LLC – Manahawkin
573 Mill Creek Road
Manahawkin, NJ 08050

In a Facebook photo Kellen Bischoff is on the right.


The Bischoff family GoFundMe here:

Hello my name is Julian Contreras along with Alex Rietmann, Nick Anastasatos, and Estrella Vasquez Morales. Kellen was the drummer in our band Hellfire and was a dear friend of all of ours. He was very dedicated and passionate about music and our band. Due to his unfortunate and tragic passing we have set up this go fund me to help the bischoff family for any expenses such as the funeral.


BERKS COUNTY, PA–On Saturday, November 12, 2022, at approximately 8:41 a.m., the Exeter Township Police Department responded to the Total Recycling Facility, 1270 Lincoln Rd, Birdsboro PA 19508 after a deceased male was found among trash recyclables that had been dropped off by a trash hauler. 

The Berks County District Attorney Detectives responded to this location to assist with this investigation.  A description of the deceased male, including several unique tattoos, was disseminated to Berks County law enforcement agencies in an effort to help identify the victim.  Based upon these descriptors, the Kutztown Borough Police Department recognized these identifiers to be a subject who had recently been reported missing to their agency.  The victim was identified as Kellen J. Bischoff, 19 years of age, from Manahawkin, New Jersey.    

Detectives from Exeter Township Police Department and Berks County District Attorney Detectives met with officials from both the Kutztown Borough Police Department and Kutztown University Police.  They learned that the victim had been visiting a family member in Kutztown Borough and he was last seen in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 12th, after leaving an off-campus house party.        

As a result of the aforementioned information, investigators began to track the movement of the victim.  Recovered surveillance footage showed the victim, who was alone, climbing into a dumpster located to the rear of the Dollar Tree, 45 Constitution Boulevard, Kutztown, PA.  Several hours later, a trash hauler was observed arriving at this location.  The contents of this dumpster were then emptied and compressed into the rear of the recycling truck and transported to the Total Recycling Facility, where the victim’s body was later discovered.    

On Monday, November 14, 2022, an autopsy was performed on the victim at the Tower Health Reading Hospital.  No signs of foul play or unexplained injuries were observed to the victim.  The victim’s injuries were consistent with having been dumped into and later compressed by the trash truck.  Toxicology results are pending.

The investigation is continuing.  To date, no evidence of foul play has been uncovered and the victim’s death appears to be accidental.   


Kellen Joseph Bischoff age 19 of Manahawkin, NJ


Fort Lauderdale, FL Man Busted Passing Counterfeit U.S. Currency At Jackson Premium Outlets

November 16, 2022

JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–Jackson Police reported that on November 8, 2022 Detective Purtell was in the area of the Jackson Premium Outlets following up on an unrelated investigation while also working a plain clothed detail to combat the rise in shoplifting that the outlets are experiencing. Det. Purtell was advised by police dispatch that several stores within the outlet mall called to report two males attempting to pass counterfeit US currency. After canvassing the area, Det. Purtell was able to locate one of the suspects with the assistance of the description forwarded by dispatch.

While approaching the male suspect, said suspect became aware of his presence. Det. Purtell displayed his badge and identified himself as a Jackson Police Officer. The suspect froze and became hesitant to which Det. Purtell again identified himself and advised him that he needed to speak with him.

It was at this time the suspect dropped the bags he was carrying and began running away from Det. Purtell. A foot pursuit ensued and Det. Purtell kept ordering the suspect to stop. While pursuing the suspect, he was observed reaching into his pockets and pulling out several bills that appeared to be US currency. The suspect was observed ripping up the bills and throwing them to the ground during the pursuit. It appeared to Det. Purtell that the suspect was attempting to destroy evidence and distance himself from the counterfeit US currency.

After pursuing the suspect for approximately one quarter of a mile through the parking lot area, Det. Purtell was able to corner the suspect in a location that he would not be able to escape. The suspect was taken into custody without incident. During the search of his person, Det. Purtell recovered several one-hundred dollar bills. Det. Purtell was able to immediately determine that the bills were counterfeit as well due to their texture and color upon inspection. All of the bills also possessed the same serial number. Said bills were confirmed to be counterfeit during the course of the investigation once at headquarters. In total the suspect had in his possession just over $1000 in counterfeit bills, some which was utilized to make fraudulent purchases.

Jeremy Hardy, age 26 of Fort Lauderdale, Florida was charged with the following:

• (5) Five counts of Possession of Counterfeit Bills

• Destruction of Evidence

• Obstruction

• Hindering Apprehension

Hardy was subsequently lodged at Ocean County Jail in lieu of his charges. Secret Service was also advised of the counterfeiting incident. The second suspect was never located or identified.

The media and the public are reminded that any persons arrested or charged with any offenses or crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.


Car Burst Into Flames After Crash On Route 37 In Toms River

November 8, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Around 1:15 p.m. on Monday November 7, 2022, Toms River Fire Department received a call for a reported car fire on Route 37 W & Parkway. The first arriving Chief confirmed the crash and active car fire. 2671 was first due and stretched the trash line to the car. No injuries were reported and everyone got out ok. No further details are available at this time.

Photo and story by: Ryan Mack, Jersey Shore Fire Response



Jackson PGA Pro Earns PGA National Award

November 8, 2022

JACKSON, NJ (MERCER)–Bryan DeMarco, PGA Head Golf Professional at Pine Barrens Golf Club in Jackson, New Jersey, has been selected for the 2021 Deacon Palmer Award, honoring a PGA Professional who displays outstanding integrity, character and leadership in the effort to overcome a major obstacle in their life. Diagnosed with Cancer at just 21 years old during his junior year at Penn State, DeMarco battled the disease while pursuing his dream to become a PGA Professional. As his career progressed, and after 15 years in remission, while handling his responsibilities at Pine Barrens Golf Club, his Cancer returned in 2016. The Pine Barrens staff offered full support as Bryan learned to make adjustments and continued to work while fighting off the disease. He worked remotely, visiting the club when possible giving lessons and club fittings while sitting in a cart when he did not have the strength to stand. Today, Bryan continues to give back, having raised over $30,000 for the New Jersey Golf Foundation through his seven years presiding over the Pine Barrens Member-Guest-Professional Tournament. He also is an active supporter of DetecTogether, a foundation dedicated to early detection of Cancers. He believes that if he is able to help just one person through his endeavors, it is all worth it.


Waretown, NJ Man Sentenced To Year In Prison For Fake Federal ID Badges And Short-Barreled Rifle With Silencer

November 7, 2022

TRENTON, N.J. – An Ocean County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in prison for unlawfully possessing a privately manufactured short barrel rifle, a silencer, and five imitation badges of various federal agencies, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Jeffrey Backlund, 57, of Waretown, New Jersey, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to an information charging him with unlawfully possessing firearms that were not registered in the National Firearms Register and Transfer Record, and unlawful possession of an official badge or identification card. Judge Sheridan imposed the sentence today in Trenton federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

On Sept. 6, 2020, after investigating a domestic disturbance, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Backlund’s residence and located a number of firearms and imitation federal identification badges. They found one short-barreled, AR-style, .223 caliber rifle bearing no serial number and no branding. Attached to the rifle, they found a tan metal cylindrical device that law enforcement determined to be a silencer. Given the physical characteristics of the rifle and silencer, Backlund was required to, but did not, register these items in the National Firearms Register and Transfer Record pursuant to the National Firearms Act.

Law enforcement officers also located two bi-fold wallets containing FBI Special Agent identification credentials bearing Backlund’s picture and personal information, a United States Marshals Service badge, a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent badge, and a Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent badge. All badges and identifications were imitation and Backlund did not have the authority to possess any of them.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Sheridan sentenced Backlund to three years of supervised release and fined him $5,000.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark; special agents of the ATF Newark Field Division, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bryan R. Miller; special agents of the DEA, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Susan A. Gibson in Newark; members of the U.S. Marshals Service, under the direction of Marshal Juan Mattos Jr.; detectives with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer, and officers of the Ocean Township Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michal J. Rogalski, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Martha K. Nye of the Criminal Division in Trenton.

22-413

Defense counsel: Keith Oliver Esq., Middletown, New Jersey


Male Suffers Severe Burns In Jackson Fire

November 5, 2022

JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–Jackson Township Police Department reported that 12:59 a.m., multiple Fire and Police units were dispatched to 1400 Dahlia Court for a report of a possible structure fire. Officers DeBlasi and Brown were the first units on scene. Upon their arrival they encountered a male subject outside of the residence with severe burns to his upper body. Jackson First Aid was immediately summoned to render aid to the victim. The victim was able to tell them that the fire was in the upstairs bathroom of the unit and that there was nobody else inside the residence. Officer DeBlasi entered the residence and immediately observed a heavy smoke condition coming from the second floor of the unit. Several other officers arrived on scene and began to evacuate the residents of the adjoining units.

Fire units from Jackson Mills Station 54, Jackson Station 55, and Southard Fire Company in Howell arrived on location and extinguished the fire. The fire was contained to the upstairs bathroom and master bedroom and does not appear to have damaged any of the adjoining units.

Fire Inspectors Grossman and Ocean County Fire Marshall Hollingsworth responded to the scene. Preliminary investigation revealed that the fire appears to have been accidental and does not appear to be suspicious in nature, however the exact cause is still being investigated.

The victim was initially transported to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood, but was later transported to the Cooperman St. Barnabas Burn Unit in Livingston for further treatment. At last report he is listed in critical, but stable condition.


69-Year-Old Toms River Man Charged With 4 Counts Arson That Destroyed Six Vehicles In Wall Township Causing $1+Million In Damages

November 3, 2022

WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ (MONMOUTH)–A Toms River man has been arrested and charged with setting ablaze a group of commercial vehicles belonging to a local business in Wall Township, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Thursday.

Harcourt “Paul” S. Ward, 69, of Toms River, has been charged with four counts of second-degree Arson in connection with a fire that was responsible for the destruction of six vehicles.

On Monday evening, September 26, at approximately 10:11 p.m., the Wall Township Police Department received a call for a fire at the 1900 block of Atlantic Avenue. Upon arrival, members of the Wall Township Police Department and Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office found six total vehicles on fire.

An investigation revealed that Ward, of Ward Realty and Insurance in Point Pleasant was the person responsible for purposely setting the vehicles ablaze. The estimated value of the damage caused by the fire was over $1 million.

Anyone with information regarding this case is urged to contact Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Joshua Rios at 800-533-7443 or Wall Township Police Detective Zach Honecker at 732-449-4500.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Caitlin J. Sidley, of the Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau.

Legal representation for Ward was not immediately available.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.


Shoplifting Ring Busted By Jackson Police; Group Was Targeting Jackson Outlets Responsible For $60K Stolen Items

November 3, 2022

JACKSON, NJ (OCEAN)–Jackson Police Department reports that over the course of the past two months, the Jackson Premium Outlets has been a target for professional shoplifting rings. Identifying this problem, the agency set up daily proactive details consisting of plain clothes patrol officers and members of the SEU to be at the outlets in attempt to both prevent and apprehend these subjects.

Due to efforts by multiple jurisdictions, and our detective bureau along with the help of Loss Prevention specialists, an out of state professional shoplifting group was identified. This ring out of Baltimore, Maryland was reportedly responsible for numerous acts of shoplifting in several surrounding states. The group had been responsible for almost $60,000.00 in stolen items from Jackson Premium Outlets alone.

On October 29th, Police Officer Scheuerman and Police Officer Collins were assigned to this detail with the information received that the suspects may be in our area on this date. During the course of the detail, the suspect vehicle was positively identified by officers. The vehicle was occupied with (4) people at the time. Officers contacted the SEU and advised them of their observations. Detectives Purtell, and Thomason of the SEU, along with Police Officer Cocchiara promptly responded to the outlets along with other uniformed personnel. Units were strategically placed around the area and suspect vehicle in effort to effect the apprehension and minimize any attempt of fleeing. Upon exiting the Under Armour store officers confronted members of the ring, who promptly tried to evade officers by either running away or physically trying to resist officer’s efforts. One of the females, during the course of fleeing from officers, assaulted a Good Samaritan who was trying to assist law enforcement by trying to stop a suspect from getting away.

All four suspects were successfully apprehended by officers and transported the police department for processing. The vehicle they were operating was towed from the scene and transported to headquarters where SEU would be making application for a search warrant for said vehicle.

Anthony Jones, D’Arnajai Raheem, Shontaz Wingate and Veronica Motes were all charged with the following:

• Organized Retail Theft Enterprise Shoplifting

• Shoplifting

• Obstruction

• Hindering Apprehension

In addition Veronica Motes was also charged with Robbery.

All four subjects were subsequently lodged at Ocean County Jail in lieu of their charges.

The media and the public are reminded that any persons arrested or charged with any offenses or crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.


Forked River Man Charged With Murder Of His Wife

October 31, 2022

FREEHOLD – An Ocean County man has been arrested for allegedly killing his wife and leaving her body on the side of a road in Ocean Township this past weekend, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Monday.

Jeremy B. Cruz, 51, of Forked River is charged with First-Degree Murder in connection with the death of 51-year-old Dawn C. Cruz.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 30, a woman who appeared to have sustained severe injuries was observed by a concerned motorist at the intersection of Asbury and Colonial avenues in the Township of Ocean. Upon responding, Ocean Township Police Department officers located the victim, identified as Dawn Cruz, who was ultimately pronounced dead at the scene.

A short while later, Jeremy Cruz turned himself in to authorities at Berkeley Township Police Department headquarters in Ocean County. A joint investigation by members of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Ocean Township Police Department, Asbury Park Police Department, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, and Berkeley Township Police Department ultimately led to the arrest and charging of Cruz. He remains in custody pending a first appearance and detention hearing to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court.

This case has been assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Caitlin J. Sidley of the Major Crimes Bureau. Information on Cruz’s legal representation was not immediately available. Convictions on Murder charges are commonly punishable by terms of up to life in state prison.

Anyone with information about this matter is being asked to contact MCPO Detective Aaron Shaw at 800-533-7443 or Ocean Township Police Department Detective Zachary Rhein at 732-531-1800.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Jackson Man Charged With Robbing West Long Branch Check-Cashing Business Of $700,000.

October 28, 2022

FREEHOLD – An Ocean County man has been arrested and charged with committing a daytime robbery of a West Long Branch check-cashing business that netted $700,000, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago announced Friday.   

Travis A. Bryant, 41, of Jackson is charged with first-degree Robbery, second-degree Burglary, and fourth-degree Possession of an Imitation Handgun.

At approximately 9 a.m. on Thursday, November 2, 2017, members of the West Long Branch Police Department responded to the check-cashing business on Route 36 on a report of a silent alarm activation. At that location, officers found a lone employee, who advised that a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt pulled tightly around his face and sunglasses had just robbed the store of a large quantity of cash.

It was quickly determined that the man had entered the store when no customers were present and used a ladder to access and climb through ceiling ducts in order to access a secured, employees-only area of the business where cash was stored. After falling through the ceiling, Bryant reportedly approached the store employee, indicating that he was in possession of a weapon, and ordered her into the store bathroom while he made off with her purse, cell phone, and approximately $700,000 in cash, driving away in a van.

An intensive, long-term investigation by members of the West Long Branch Police Department and a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) resulted in Bryant being identified as a suspect in the case, and he was arrested without incident yesterday and lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) pending a first appearance and detention hearing to take place in Monmouth County Superior Court.

This case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Bogner, Director of the MCPO Major Crimes Bureau, members of which also assisted in the investigation. Information on Bryant’s legal representation was not immediately available.

Convictions on first-degree crimes are commonly punishable by terms of 10 to 20 years in state prison.

Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

Catalytic Converter Thieves From Minnesota Arrested In Toms River, NJ

October 27, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–On Wednesday, October 26, 2022, at approximately 10:55 p.m., multiple police units were dispatched to Dugan Lane for a reported suspicious vehicle and theft in progress. The caller stated that the catalytic converter to his SUV had just been cut at the suspect vehicle, a large white box truck with a loading ramp on the tailgate, was last seen heading towards Lakewood.

Numerous patrol units in the area quickly located the box truck and conducted a motor vehicle stop at New Hampshire Avenue and Church Road. A search warrant was approved and the subsequent search of the vehicle yielded two recently cut catalytic converters, a sawzall, multiple sawzall blades, a handgun with a 30 round magazine and hollow point ammunition.

Ravene Johns, 25, and Malik Williams, 21, both of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, were arrested and charged with criminal mischief, receiving stolen property, weapons offenses, criminal attempt, and theft of property. Additional charges are pending. They remain in custody at the Ocean County Jail pending hearing. The incident is under investigation by Detective Joseph Mastronardy.


Warrant Issued For 74-Year-Old Fugitive From Justice, After Fatal Hit-And-Run Pedestrian Accident In Toms River

October 26, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Toms River Township Police Chief Mitch Little announced that on October 25, 2022, Milciades Oviedo, 74, of Elizabeth, has been charged with Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, in connection with a fatal hit-and-run incident that occurred at approximately 2:10 a.m. on Sunday, October 23, 2022, in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Route 70 in Toms River, resulting in the death of Sierra Fisher, 28, of Manchester Township.

On October 23, 2022, Toms River Township Police Officers were dispatched to the aforementioned area where, upon arrival, they found Ms. Fisher lying in the roadway. First responders immediately rendered aid to Ms. Fisher, and a pulse was initially regained. Ms. Fisher was transported to Southern Monmouth Medical Center, where she was later pronounced deceased.

According to a witness on the scene, the driver exited his vehicle, looked at Ms. Fisher, and then fled in the vehicle east on Route 70 toward Lakewood. The witness described the vehicle as a dark colored 2003-2009 Ford Explorer. The vehicle was said to have significant damage to the front passenger side, including an inoperable passenger side headlight and hood damage.

Utilizing information supplied by a concerned citizen, an investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit and Toms River Township Police Department resulted in law enforcement locating the subject Ford Explorer in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The investigation further determined that Oviedo was operating the vehicle on October 23, 2022, when he struck and killed Ms. Fisher. On October 25, 2022, Oviedo was charged in the death of Ms. Fisher.

Oviedo has not yet been taken into custody, and is considered a fugitive from justice. As such, a warrant for his arrest has been issued and his name has been entered in the National Crime Information Center database. “Great teamwork has been exhibited by all of the respective law enforcement agencies and officers involved in this investigation. Our focus now is to find Milciades Oviedo and bring him into custody. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Milciades Oviedo should contact Detective Anthony Carrington of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027, extension 3257, or Corporal Robert Westfall at rwestfall@trpolice.org, or the Toms River Township Police Detective Bureau at 732-349-0150,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Little commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Toms River Township Police Department Patrol Division, Toms River Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Field Services Unit, and City of Elizabeth Police Department, for their continuing and combined efforts in connection with this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6). 


Oviedo has not yet been taken into custody, and is considered a fugitive from justice

Milciades Oviedo, 74, of Elizabeth, has been charged with Knowingly Leaving the Scene of a Motor Vehicle Accident Resulting in Death in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5.1, in connection with a fatal hit-and-run incident that occurred at approximately 2:10 a.m. on Sunday, October 23, 2022, in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Route 70 in Toms River, resulting in the death of Sierra Fisher, 28, of Manchester Township.


Apartment Fire Reported In Toms River

October 24, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Toms River Police Department reports that on Sunday, October 23, 2022, at approximately 11:20 PM, multiple police and fire units were dispatched to Edgewood Drive for a reported apartment structure fire. Upon arrival, there were many residents already outside and knocking on doors to assist in evacuating the building. Officers were met by residents Jordan Finkle and Dominic Dowd, who advised that they just assisted in rescuing a woman from the burning apartment and, although they did not see or hear anyone else, the female told them there was another person inside. Officer Tyler Pinto climbed onto the balcony of the apartment if effort to locate the alleged entrapped individual but did not observe or hear anyone in the apartment. The apartment began billowing black smoke as Officer Pinto exited the balcony and the Toms River Fire Department arrived on scene to extinguish the blaze and secure the building.

The female victim was transported to Community Medical Center for treatment of smoke inhalation. Once the fire was extinguished, the apartment was again searched multiple times by fire fighters and first responders but there was no sign of anyone else inside. Multiple apartments were damaged and deemed uninhabitable as a result of the fire. The American Red Cross was contacted and responded to the scene to help aid the residents.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time and remains under investigation by the Toms River Bureau of Fire Prevention, the Toms River Police Detective Bureau, and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Also assisting on scene was the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department CIU, multiple fire companies, and CSO/EMTs.

We would like to acknowledge the quick-thinking and heroic actions of the residents who came together to ensure everyone was able to get out of the apartments safely! Also, to Samantha Batiato who, along with neighbors, rendered aid to the victim and monitored her condition while waiting for first responders to arrive.


Toms River Fatal Pedestrian Hit And Run Under Investigation

October 23, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Toms River Township Chief of Police Mitch Little announced that there is an active investigation in connection with a fatal pedestrian hit and run that occurred at approximately 2:10 a.m. on Sunday, October 23, 2022, in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Route 70.

Toms River Police were dispatched and upon arrival found a 28-year-old female victim lying in the roadway. According to a witness on the scene, the driver exited his vehicle, looked at pedestrian and then fled in the vehicle east on Route 70 toward Lakewood. The witness described the vehicle as a dark colored 2003-2009 Ford Explorer.  The vehicle has significant damage to the front passenger side, including an inoperable passenger side headlight and hood damage. The driver is described as a tall, thin, white male, with blonde or reddish hair. 

First responders immediately rendered aid to the victim along with EMS/Medics, and a pulse was initially regained. She was transported to Southern Monmouth Medical Center where she was later pronounced.

 “Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the vehicle and/or its operator is asked to please contact Detective Anthony Carrington of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit at 732-929-2027, ext. 3257, or Toms River Police Officer Corporal Robert Westfall at rwestfall@trpolice.org, or the Toms River Township Police Detective Bureau at 732-349-0150,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

This is an active and ongoing investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit, Toms River Police Department and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office.


North Carolina And New Jersey Women Dead In Garden State Park Way Opposite Direction Head On Crash

October 22, 2022

LITTLE EGG HARBOR, NJ (OCEAN)–Trooper II Charles Marchan from the NJ State Police Public Information Unit told MidJersey.News that Troopers responded to a motor vehicle crash at approximately 9:23 p.m. on the Garden State Parkway south at milepost 59.3, Little Egg Harbor Twp., Ocean County. 

Based on a preliminary investigation Michelle L. Ross, a 50-year-old female of Asheville, North Carolina was operating a 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander on the Garden State Parkway South. Cortney L. Downey a 32-year-old female of Northfield, NJ was operating a Toyota Corolla on the Garden State Parkway South. In the area of milepost 59.3, an opposite direction head on collision occurred between the Mitsubishi and the Toyota. After impact, the Mitsubishi overturned. Both drivers sustained fatal injuries. The crash remains under investigation and there is no additional information available at the moment. 


Police Respond To Schools Around The State On Multiple Swatting Incidents This Morning

October 14, 2022

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, NJ (MERCER)–Hamilton Township Police quickly responded to Hamilton High School West this morning on an apparent “swatting” incident. The school was quickly placed on lockdown as police checked the school to make sure everyone was safe.


New Jersey State Police reported, “The New Jersey State Police has been made aware of numerous active shooter threats targeting various school districts throughout the state.

Several schools have been placed on lockdown and after thorough investigations by local, state, and county authorities, the threats have proven to be unfounded.

The Regional Operations Intelligence Center is currently monitoring the situation and has not deemed any of the threats as credible.

The State Police and our law enforcement partners take all threats seriously and will utilize every asset at our disposal to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, administrators, and the public.

We urge everyone to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency.”


Hamilton Police say that on October 14 2022 at 10:02 a.m. Hamilton Police Dispatch received a telephone call from a person with a thick Middle Eastern or Indian accent stating “there are people trying to get into the door of Hamilton West”.  The School Resource Officer along with several responding police units searched Hamilton High School West after initiating a “Lock Down” of Hamilton High School West.  After the incident was deemed safe, the “Lockdown” was lifted.

Hamilton Police gained information that other municipalities were affected by the same type of call with a party having a similar accent.  Hamilton Police along with the Hamilton Twp. Board of Education determined the phone calls were hoax calls.

No injuries were reported during the incident, no suspicious parties were located in or around Hamilton High School West.  Police Units remained on scene until the situation was calm.


Swatting is defined as: “The action or practice of making a prank call to emergency services in an attempt to bring about the dispatch of a large number of armed police officers to a particular address.”


In a letter to parents from Hamilton Township Schools Superintendent Scott R. Rocco, Ed.D. stated:

Today, there were two calls made to 911 that indicated an incident was happening at Hamilton High School West. This resulted in a large police presence inside and outside of the school. It also resulted in the school being put into a shelter in place for one of the calls and a lock down for the other call. 

Neither of these calls were real. They have been deemed a hoax. Neither of these calls were generated inside of our school. At no time were any of our students or staff in any danger. Although that is a relief, it does not lessen the fear or scared feelings of our students and staff.

I have been informed that this same situation has happened to other schools in New Jersey today. 

I would like to thank the faculty and staff of Hamilton High School West for their efforts in ensuring our students’ safety and I would like to thank our Hamilton Township Police Department for their quick response and constant presence.  

We take school safety very seriously in our district. We have safety plans and we practice those plans. Our police department also works collaboratively with us in our planning, drills, and situations that arise in our district. That being said, our best safety measures are when our students, staff, and community say something if they see, hear or know of a problem. Please continue to do so.


Toms River Police said in a Facebook Post, “A short time ago Toms River Police dispatch received a phone call regarding a potential shooting at High School North. Officers responded and the school was locked down as a precaution. The call was deemed unfounded and is being investigated as a swatting incident. We are requesting no one respond to the school as there is no active threat.”


Monmouth County Sherriff’s Office reported, ** POLICE ACTIVITY ** Freehold Twp- Biotechnology High School & Monmouth County Career Center – Kozloski Road Freehold Twp – there is no threat or danger to students.


Jackson Township Police reported, “About an hour ago Jackson Police dispatch received a phone call regarding a potential shooting at Jackson Liberty High School. We had already received information via the FBI that a handful of schools within New Jersey were experiencing the same calls from the same suspect prior to this phone call.

Regardless school security and our School Resource Officer sought out the location given by the caller, and it was deemed not to be a threat as the location given by the caller was inaccurate. Due to the totality of the circumstances, the decision was made not to put the school in lockdown. The call was deemed unfounded and is being investigated as a swatting incident. We are requesting no one respond to the school as there is no active threat.”


Barnegat Police Department made several reports on Facebook, “We received an unfounded report of a “shooter” in the Barnegat High School. Officers were quickly on scene and in the building and have found no indications or reports of anything occurring. Bengal Blvd will be closed as we continue to ensure the security of the building. All other district schools were placed in shelter in place status as a precautionary measure. Parents who are responding to the area are asked to go to the Collins school where we will provide any additional information. It appears that at least one other district in the county has received a similar “report”. Again, we have significant resources on scene to ensure the safety of the kids and staff at BHS and there are no indications that anything has occurred. Updates to follow. –Chief”

The students from BHS are being evacuated and will be bussed to the Collins school for reunification with parents. While we believe this was a swatting incident, officers continue to follow-up with secondary searches of the building. Again, the students and staff are safe and we have significant resources on scene to ensure it stays that way. –Chief

BHS evacuation is complete. Officers have completed the secondary search of the first floor and are wrapping up the second floor. Once that’s done, we’ll open up Bengal Blvd. The school district will then bus any driving-age BHS kids from the Collins school reunification point back to get their cars if needed. Very much appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation.– Chief


Freehold Township Police Reported, “At 10:13am, the Freehold Township Police Department responded to the Biotech High School for a possible report of shots fired. This incident was deemed to be a hoax and is currently under investigation. As part of the response both the Biotech High School and neighboring Career Center were locked down and both buildings were cleared by officers from Freehold Township, Freehold Borough, and the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office. All students and staff are safe. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective George J. Baumann at 732-252-1950.”


Message from East Brunswick Schools Superintendent Dr. Valeski:

October 14, 2022

Good Morning East Brunswick Community,

This is Victor Valeski, Superintendent of Schools, with a very important message regarding an incident at our high school this morning…and I want to assure everyone that every student and every staff member is safe.

Our 911 police dispatch operator received a phone call reporting an incident occurring at our high school that required immediate police assistance.  This warranted a large police response to the high school and the building was immediately placed in a “Shelter in Place” status.  Central Elementary School also exercised a “Shelter in Place” because of it’s close proximity to the high school. 

Members of our district Central Office leadership responded to the building to support the HS administration.

Ultimately, the call was determined to be a hoax, also known as SWATTING, but the continuous training with our students, staff, administrators, security team and EBPD was evident today.


Lower Township Police in Cape May County reported, “Lower Cape May Regional High School is in a shelter in place for what we believe is a HOAX. Law Enforcement is conducting a search of the school to confirm.”


Other towns with swatting incidents this morning were Newark at Weequhaic High School and another Paterson.


The scene this morning at Hamilton High School West in Mercer County, NJ


Lacey Township Man Charged With Bias Intimidation And Terroristic Threats Against Amazon Delivery Driver In “Racist Neighborhood”

Vincentini parked his vehicle in such a way as to block the Amazon driver’s vehicle. Vincentini proceeded to confront the driver, questioned why the driver was in his neighborhood, and further inquired as to whether the driver understood that it was a racist neighborhood. Vincentini then asked the driver whether he wanted him to go back to his car, get his rifle, and shoot the driver in the head. The Amazon driver then drove away and contacted the Lacey Township Police Department.

October 7, 2022

LACEY TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that John Vincentini, 62, of Lacey Township, was charged with Bias Intimidation in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1a(1) and Terroristic Threats in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3b, in connection with an incident that occurred in Lacey Township on September 5, 2022.

An investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crime Unit and Lacey Township Police Department Detective Bureau determined that on September 5, 2022, Vincentini was operating a motor vehicle in Lacey Township and followed an Amazon delivery driver into a cul-de-sac as the driver was making deliveries; Vincentini parked his vehicle in such a way as to block the Amazon driver’s vehicle. Vincentini proceeded to confront the driver, questioned why the driver was in his neighborhood, and further inquired as to whether the driver understood that it was a racist neighborhood. Vincentini then asked the driver whether he wanted him to go back to his car, get his rifle, and shoot the driver in the head. The Amazon driver then drove away and contacted the Lacey Township Police Department.

On October 5, 2022, Vincentini surrendered himself to the Lacey Township Police Department. He was processed and released on a summons pending future appearances in Ocean County Superior Court.

“It is against the law to intimidate someone based upon their race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national origin, disability, or gender identity/expression. Individuals that employ hatred, intolerance, and prejudice with a purpose to intimidate will be investigated and if warranted – prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Bias Crime Unit and Lacey Township Detective Bureau for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.


The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6).


John Vincentini, 62, of Lacey Township, was charged with Bias Intimidation in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1a(1) and Terroristic Threats in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:12-3b, in connection with an incident that occurred in Lacey Township on September 5, 2022.


Assemblyman Alex Sauickie Announces Wall Of Pink Ribbons For Breast Cancer Awareness Month

September 30, 2022

NEW EGYPT – PLUMSTED, NJ (OCEAN)- Assemblyman Alex Sauickie announced that his office will host a wall of remembrance for breast cancer survivors or loved ones passed away from the disease. 

“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month because it is important to raise awareness of the disease and to encourage early detection.  The earlier the detection, the greater the chance of surviving,” said Sauickie (R-Ocean). 

According to the American Cancer Society statistics center, New Jersey women are more likely to get breast cancer than any other form of the disease.  Death from breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the state.

“I invite residents of the 12th Legislative office to come to my office, during the month of October, between 10:00 am and 2 pm, and place a pink ribbon on our wall to remember the heroic effort our loved ones went through in their fight against breast cancer,” Sauickie said.  “My office will provide the ribbon and assist the public in their remembrance.”

The office is located at 405 Route 539 (Pinehurst Road) in New Egypt.

The 12th Legislative District is comprised of Allentown, Chesterfield, Englishtown, Jackson, Manalapan, Matawan, Millstone, New Hanover, North Hanover, Old Bridge, Plumsted, Roosevelt, Upper Freehold and Wrightstown.




Uncle And Nephew Admit To Slaying In Howell Township

Omar Rivera-Rojas a.k.a. Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas, 32, of Lakewood, along with his nephew, Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, 20, also of Lakewood, both pled guilty to first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter charges. 

September 26, 2022

FREEHOLD – Omar Rivera-Rojas (also known as Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas), and his nephew Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, pleaded guilty to first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter charges stemming from a 2019 slaying in Howell Township, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Lori Linskey announced Sunday.  

On Friday September 23, 2022, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. LeMieux, Omar Rivera-Rojas a.k.a. Juan Carlos Rivera-Rojas, 32, of Lakewood, along with his nephew, Alberto Rojas-Hernandez, 20, also of Lakewood, both pled guilty to first-degree Aggravated Manslaughter charges. At the time of sentencing the State will recommend 22 years in a New Jersey State Prison for Rivera-Rojas. The sentence will be subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA) with an 85% period of parole ineligibility. At the time of sentencing for Rojas-Hernandez, the State will recommend 20 years in a New Jersey State Prison. The sentence will also be subject to the No Early Release Act (NERA) with 85% period of parole ineligibility.  

The Howell Township Police Department responded to a 911 call at about 3:46 a.m. on October 18, 2019, reporting an unconscious male laying in Hurley Pond Road just east of Route 547.  Upon arrival, a male was located lying face down in the roadway.  The incident was initially investigated as a fatal hit and run motor vehicle incident.  However, upon the arrival of SCART investigators it was quickly determined that his death was not the result of a hit and run event.

The man, identified as Domingo Merino-Rafael, 33, also of Lakewood, was unresponsive and obviously deceased. MONOC personnel responded and the victim was pronounced deceased at 4:12 a.m. by doctors at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. Rafael was taken to the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office where a post-mortem examination performed by Medical Examiner Allison Mautone, M.D. and the staff of the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office determined the cause of death was a Homicide.

A joint investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and Howell Township Police Department determined Rivera-Rojas, Rojas-Hernandez, and Merino-Rafael traveled from Lakewood to Middlesex County on the evening of October 17, 2019.  The men were returning to Lakewood in the early morning hours of October 18, 2019, when the trio got into an argument that culminated with the uncle and nephew killing Merino-Rafael. During their factual basis both men admitted that they each struck the victim in the back of the head with a machete.  The cause of death was multiple chop wounds to the head. 

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Howell Township Police Department also credited the Lakewood Police Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office for their assistance during the investigation.

Sentencing for both Rivera-Rojas and Rojas-Hernandez is scheduled for March 3, 2023, before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Marc C. LeMieux.

The case is being handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Stephanie Dugan and Tara Wilson.

Rojas-Hernandez is represented by Joseph Champagne, Esq. of Toms River, New Jersey.

Rivera-Rojas is represented by Carlos Diaz-Cobo, Esq. of New Brunswick, New Jersey.


Breaking: Building Floor Partly Collapses In Barnegat Light, NJ During Wedding With 200 People

September 17, 2022

BARNEGAT LIGHT, NJ (OCEAN)–Around 7:36 p.m. multiple Police, Fire and Rescue Units responded to 404 Broadway for a “building collapse” with around 200 people on the second floor during a wedding. Upon arrival it was determined that 200 people needed evacuation from the building and the floor was caving in but not fully collapsed.

Barnegat Light First Aid Squad reported “Squad 12 along with multiple other agencies are on scene of a reported building collapse in the 4th street area of Barnegat Light. As of now there are fortunately no reported injuries and firefighters are working to secure the building’s structure at this time.”

A Fire Marshal and Building Inspector were requested to the scene.

From Barnegat Light Volunteer Fire Company #1: “As many of you already know, we were dispatched to Daymark last night for reports of a collapse of the second floor. The floor did not collapse, but caved in resulting in the structure being unsafe for the meantime. The DJ did an excellent job of announcing to all patrons to safely exit the building after hearing the rumble noise. Great job by Incident command of both fire (1300) and EMS (120). There were no injuries. Thank you to all assisting agency’s. Barnegat Light First Aid Squad, Squads 49, 14, 38, Medics 1303, EMS Coordinator, Fire Marshall’s, LBTPD and anyone else we may have missed. Also, congratulations to the bride and groom!”

Further details to follow.

Photos by: David Costain

The scene tonight in Barnegat Light at the Daymark Bar and Restaurant




Barnegat Light Volunteer Fire Company #1 Photos

Unlicensed Driver Charged In Pedestrian Strike In Toms River; Pedestrian In Critical Condition

September 13, 2022

TOMS RIVER, NJ (OCEAN)–On Monday, September 12, 2022, at approximately 2:20 PM, police units were dispatched to Hooper Avenue, just north of Washington Street, for a reported pedestrian struck by a vehicle. Roseann Macchiarelli, 52 of Seaside Heights was traveling north on Hooper Avenue when she struck pedestrian Jessica Descafano, 33 of Forked River, who entered traffic attempting to cross Hooper Avenue mid-block.
Ms. Descafano was airlifted to Jersey Shore Medical University in Neptune due to the extent of her injuries where she is listed in critical, but stable, condition. Ms. Macchiarelli was issued citations for being an unlicensed driver, and charged with Causing Injury While Unlicensed, as well as being arrested for an active warrant.
The accident remains under investigation by Traffic Safety Officers Bob Westfall and Ryan Fitzgerald. Also assisting at the scene was the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office.


Lakeside Rod And Gun Club Treasurer Charged With Theft Of Approximately $4K; Used Club’s Funds For Personal Benefit

September 13, 2022

PLUMSTED TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Plumsted Township Police Chief Earl Meroney announced that on September 6, 2022, Michael D. Weber, 64, of Spotswood, was charged with Theft in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:20-3a.

An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad and Plumsted Township Police Department revealed that Weber – acting in his capacity as Treasurer of the Lakeside Rod and Gun Club in Plumsted Township – stole approximately $4,000.00 from the club between July 2017 and January 2021. Weber was responsible for collecting and depositing the club’s membership dues and paying the club’s expenses. While he did, in fact, collect the membership dues, Weber utilized the funds for his own personal benefit.

Weber was processed and released on a summons pending future appearances in Ocean County Superior Court.

Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Meroney acknowledge the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Squad and Plumsted Township Police Department for their collaborative efforts in connection with this investigation.

The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
R.P.C. 3.6(b)(6)



Killer Identified In 1991 Ocean County “Cold Case”

September 7, 2022

BARNEGAT TOWNSHIP, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that a collaborative, multi-agency investigation conducted by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Barnegat Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police Cold Case Unit, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, has conclusively identified John Pelletier, formerly of Barnegat Township, as the individual responsible for the murder of Deborah “Debbie” Ann Bloomquist, 30, of Ocean Township (Monmouth County), in Barnegat in 1991. Pelletier passed away in North Dakota in 2015.

On October 26, 1991, the body of a young woman, later identified as Deborah Ann Bloomquist, was discovered in a heavily wooded area in Barnegat. An autopsy performed by the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Ms. Bloomquist died from multiple stab wounds and that she was the victim of a sexual assault. The Medical Examiner ruled Ms. Bloomquist’s cause of death a homicide. The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, Barnegat Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sherriff’s Office began an investigation into Ms. Bloomquist’s murder. In furtherance of the investigation, biological evidence was collected and preserved; the technology did not exist at that time, however, to submit this evidence for DNA testing.

The investigation at the time of her death revealed that Ms. Bloomquist had been living in a motel in Monmouth County and was last seen at a tavern in Asbury Park on October 24, 1991. Ms. Bloomquist had no known ties to the Barnegat area. Unfortunately, no leads were established and the case went cold.

Over a decade after her murder, the biological evidence collected from the scene led to the development of a male DNA profile. In January 2022, at the direction of Prosecutor Billhimer, the case was presented to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General – Cold Case Task Force and the investigation was reopened. A full analysis of the evidence was conducted in a cooperative investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Barnegat Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police Cold Case Unit and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit. Thanks to technological advances – and with the assistance of BODE Technology – detectives were able identify the male DNA profile collected from the scene in 1991 as belonging to John Pelletier, and reach the conclusion that Pelletier was, in fact, the individual responsible for Ms. Bloomquist’s murder.

“After more than three decades, this hideous crime has, at long last, been solved. Though Pelletier never faced justice for his actions in this life, we nevertheless hope this conclusive determination brings some level of peace and closure to the family of Debbie Ann Bloomquist,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

“I’d like to thank the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey State Police for the creation of the Cold Case Task Force. The resources made available through the collaborative investigative process the Cold Case Task Force provides allowed us to finally solve this heinous crime. Barnegat Township Chief of Police Keith Germain and Barnegat Township Detective William Hetrick deserve a lot of credit for never giving up on this case. I am grateful for their efforts,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.

Prosecutor Billhimer also acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Barnegat Township Police Department, New Jersey Office of the Attorney General- Cold Case Task Force, New Jersey State Police Cold Case Unit, New Jersey State Police Office of Forensic Science, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Manchester Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Ocean Township (Monmouth County) Police Department, Asbury Park Police Department, Emmons County Sheriff’s Office (North Dakota), Morgan County Police Department (North Dakota), West Fargo Police Department (North Dakota), and BODE Technology, for their very thorough, combined and collective assistance in connection with this investigation.