RED BANK: TRIO GUILTY OF TEACHER’S MURDER

jonelle meltonRed Bank teacher Jonelle Melton was slain in her Netpune City apartment in 2009.

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njAlmost a decade after the death of Red Bank Middle School teacher Jonelle Melton, three men were found guilty Tuesday of her vicious torture and murder.

A jury in Freehold found the trio guilty of all charges in the case, according to a Twitter announcement early Tuesday afternoon from the office of Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.

Read More »

RED BANK: PILGRIM, TEMPLE TEAM UP FOR DR. KING

PILGRIM baptistSpecial guest speakers, music, prayer services, a walk and a talk with local law enforcement professionals are all on the agenda, during an extended Social Awareness Weekend keyed to Martin Luther King Day, and hosted by Pilgrim Baptist Church and Monmouth Reform Temple.

[See UPDATE below]

While the calendar of federal holidays marks just one official day to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — this coming Monday, January 16 — Red Bank’s Pilgrim Baptist Church believes that King’s work is too important, and still very relevant to our time, to be encapsulated within one 24 hour period. That’s why, beginning on Friday evening and following through the next three days, the Shrewsbury Avenue congregation sponsors a “Social Awareness Weekend” that carries forward a special collaboration with another long-established house of worship: Monmouth Reform Temple of Tinton Falls.

It’s a relationship that’s formed the foundation of a local tradition in recent years; one that continues for a third annual edition on January 13 with a Friday evening Shabbat service at MRT — a 7 p.m. all-welcome observance that features special guest speaker Diem Jones, executive director of Voices of Our Nations (VONA) Arts Foundation.

Read More »

RED BANK: SLAIN TEACHER & COPS HONORED

melton event 121815 1 melton event 121815 2Family members and friends from throughout Monmouth County gathered at Calvary Baptist Church in Red Bank Friday evening to remember slain borough teacher Jonelle Melton. Organizers also spotlighted law enforcement officials who investigated and recently charged  three men in the her 2009 slaying. Though the case is not yet closed, police and prosecutors deserved to be recognized for “keeping their word and doing something positive,” said co-organizer Linda Clark. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: REMEMBERING JONELLE MELTON

jonelle melton 111915 2Family members and friends from throughout the community will gather at Calvary Baptist Church Friday evening to remember slain Red Bank teacher Jonelle Melton.

It’s being framed by Calvary Baptist Church as “A Night to Remember” — an opportunity for both somber reflection and the season’s rejoicing, rooted in a community’s shared tragedy, but setting its sights on the star of peace and healing.

When Rev. Dr. Kenneth McGhee Jr. and the congregation of the River Street church open their doors to all members of the Red Bank community this Friday evening, the occasion will be a special pre-Christmas celebration of fellowship and Yuletide spirit — one that incorporates a tribute to Red Bank Middle School Jonelle Melton, and an expression of support for her family.

Read More »

LITTLE SILVER: HEROIN HITS HOME

RBR heroinSpeaking about the heroin epidemic at a Red Bank Regional High School assembly were (left to right) Lt. Jason C. Clark, Capt. Barry DuBrosky, Lt. Wesley Mayo, Jr., and Abby Boxman.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Law enforcement professionals from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office have been traversing Monmouth County for the past two years, sounding the alarm on the problem of heroin addiction affecting many young people.

Last year, their presentations were mainly geared to parental awareness — including two well-attended forums at Red Bank Regional High School (RBR) and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School.

In October, they returned to RB — this time to have that very difficult conversation with students.

The detectives shared some startling statistics:  4.2 million Americans aged 12 or older have reported to used heroin at least once in their lives. Of that number, one in four will become addicted; shockingly only 20 percent of those who become addicted ever recover enough to assume productive lives. This problem has become rampant in the suburbs of New Jersey, with a 45 percent increase in heroin-related deaths in the past two years; 24 percent in the last year alone. One Powerpoint slide showed the unnatural causes of death for 2013 in the county: homicides 4; highway fatalities 29; drug overdoses 37 (of which 31 were due to heroin.)

“Is it here in Little Silver?” One student asked, to which Detective Barry DuBrosky responded, “The answer is yes.”

Read More »

GUN BUYBACK RETURNS TO RUMSON

Monmouth County residents can anonymously surrender weapons as part of a countywide gun buyback program, scheduled for Friday May 16 and Saturday May 17 in Rumson.

Between the hours of 8:30 am and 5 pm, anyone can anonymously surrender a weapon — without fear of having to answer questions about their identity or how they came into possession of a weapon — at the headquarters of the Rumson Police Department, 80 East River Road. All weapons should be unloaded and transported safely, in accordance with the law.

Cash will be paid for various weapons turned in at the surrender points: $200 for an assault weapon; $100 for handguns; and $25 for shotguns and rifles. Ammunition, pellet and BB guns may be surrendered at the locations but there will be no compensation for those items.

Read More »

RBR HOSTS ADULT FORUM ON HEROIN EPIDEMIC

TimeToActMonmouth County professionals and citizens involved with the February 20 forum “Time to Talk…Time to Act” include (left to right): Jennifer McCarron, RFH intern; Suzanne Fico, RFH Student Assistance Coordinator (SAC); Jacqueline O’Hara, Nurse Practitioner Intern; Lori Todd, RBR SAC; Kathleen Booth, Red Bank Catholic SAC;  Ben Day, RFH Community Alliance; Enza Massa, RFH Social Worker; Virginia Carreira, Nurse Practitioner, Long Branch High School; Donna DeStefano, RFH Community Alliance; Nikki Barreca, Shrewsbury Community Alliance.

Over the past six months, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office has been sounding the alarm on the insidious heroin epidemic that is addicting and killing our young people, regardless of the community in which they live. As a follow-up to that awareness campaign, area school districts and drug alliance organizations are sponsoring an adult forum “Time to Talk…Time to Act” at Red Bank Regional High School on Thursday, February 20. The 6:30 pm program will take place inside the RBR auditorium .

All parents and adults are encouraged to attend the two-hour presentation, during which information on heroin addiction will be presented by medical professionals. Additionally, the personal stories of young people in recovery and the parents of people whose lives have been impacted by this highly addictive and deadly drug will be featured.  A panel of professionals will then inform the public on the resources and treatment options available to help prevent addiction, identify it and promote recovery. A Q&A session will follow the presentations.

This event is jointly sponsored by the School Districts of Fair Haven, Little Silver, Red Bank, Red Bank Catholic, Red Bank Regional, Rumson, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, and Shrewsbury, as well as the Rumson-Fair Haven Community Alliance and the Shrewsbury Community Alliance.

PORTER, M’TOWN TEEN HONORED AT MLK EVENT

Y MLKAt left, Pilgrim Baptist Pastor Terrence K. Porter (center) accepts a proclamation from Red Bank Council members Kathleen Horgan and Edward Zipprich. At right, Middletown HS South senior Aisha Boori (center) displays the Humanitarian Award presented to her during the annual YMCA Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast. Flanking her are essay contest winners Xavier Norman and Sahar Akbarzai.

A Middletown Township teen was the recipient of an annual Humanitarian Award from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, at a January 20 event that also saw a proclamation honoring the pastor of Red Bank’s Pilgrim Baptist Curch.

During the 25th annual YMCA Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast, Aisha Boori was presented with the award given each year to a Monmouth County student who “exemplifies the definition of a humanitarian and conveys the character values of the Y: caring, honesty, respect and responsibility.”

The Middletown High School South senior was recognized for her co-founding of a non-profit organization, Dreamers Without Borders, dedicated to collecting food supplies for Afghan refugees who are housed at an immigration center, as well as Tibetan refugees from a village school in India.The award was presented by First Assistant Prosecutor Marc C. LeMieux.

Pilgrim Baptist Pastor Terrence K. Porter delivered the keynote address to a crowd of approximately 300 people gathered at Branches Catering in West Long Branch.The pastor also received a proclamation from Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna and council, for his dedicated service to the Red Bank community.

Each year, teens enrolled in Monmouth County YMCA programs are invited to submit essays reflecting on Dr. King’s words, on how they can follow in his footsteps to improve the welfare of others and serve their community.This year’s essay winners were Xavier Norman, a freshman at Monmouth Regional High School, and Sahar Akbarzai, a senior at Old Bridge Regional High School. The essay winners were each rewarded with a $500 scholarship.

The annual breakfast was hosted by The Community YMCA and the YMCA of Western Monmouth County, and sponsored by Meridian Health and Sunrise Optimist Club.In addition to presenting the awards, the Ys collected non-perishable food items to support Lunch Break of Red Bank.

MAN CHARGED IN BANK INCIDENT

ls-wells-fargo1Authorities say Tuesday’s incident at the Wells Fargo in Little Silver was not a robbery. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Little Silver police have brought criminal charges against an Avenel man following an incident at the Wells Fargo bank on Prospect Avenue that caused police to lock down the bank earlier this week.

Contrary to initial reports, it was not a robbery, said Marc Lemieux, director of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office‘s major crimes bureau.

Read More »

COPS PROBE POSSIBLE ROBBERY NEXT DOOR

ls-wells-fargoLittle Silver police and Monmouth County officials on the scene of a possible robbery attempt at the Wells Fargo on Prospect Avenue. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Little Silver police and the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating a possible robbery attempt at the Wells Fargo bank on Prospect Avenue Tuesday afternoon.

As of 5:30 p.m., authorities were still on the scene — next door to the Little Silver Police Department — trying to sort out the details of differing reports in a late-afternoon incident at the bank.

Read More »

COPS MUM ON LITTLE SILVER CRIME SCENE

greenfield-ctPolice from Little Silver and Fair Haven established a crime scene at a Greenfield Court home Saturday morning. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

[UPDATE: The Monmouth County Prosecutor is treating the incident reported on below as a suicide, officials said.]

Police are conducting a crime investigation at a home in an upscale community in Little Silver.

Police would not offer any details on why they are at the home, at 84 Greenfield Court in the Alderbrook condominium and townhouse complex off Harding Road. An officer who had just cordoned off the home’s yard with yellow police tape said only that it was an active crime scene.

Read More »

THE WEEK IN REARVIEW: MAY 15-20, 2011

chopper1A helicopter search Thursday was part of an investigation into the whereabouts of missing Red Bank woman. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Busy last week prepping for the rapture?

Whatever you missed is all here, below, waiting for you.

Read More »

AUTHORITIES SEARCH FOR RED BANK WOMAN

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

052011aAuthorities have confirmed that Thursday’s “police operation” in the area of the Upper Navesink River in Red Bank was part of an on-going investigation for a Bank Street woman who went missing last week.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said it had launched an investigation, along with Red Bank and Eatontown police, into the whereabouts of 26-year-old Viridiana Beltran-Gomez, right.

Read More »

COPS, CHOPPER ON SCENE AT RIVER STREET

chopperA helicopter hovered above the water at the foot of River Street Thursday morning as authorities conducted unknown “police operations.” (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

[Editor’s Note: This story is updated with information from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.]

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank and Monmouth County authorities are conducting “police operations” in the area of River Street, next to the primary school, which include a helicopter and police in a boat where Swimming River meets the upper Navesink River.

One official was overheard saying the efforts are related to a missing person report, but declined to confirm that information, and deferred all questioning to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni would not comment further on the activity, only saying it’s a “law enforcement operation.”

Read More »

PROSECUTOR: FIRE STARTED IN WASTEBASKET

house-fire-041911Tuesday morning’s blaze is believed to have been caused by a cigarette or match. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A poorly discarded cigarette or match is believed to have started a fire that killed three family members and a fourth person Tuesday morning, authorities said.

Sheridan Banovich, 63;  her daughter, Deidre, 23; Deidre’s boyfriend, Anthony Cadalzo, 25; and Banovich’s sister, Denise DuSold, 60, all died in the early-morning fire, Christopher Gramiccioni, of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, said.

The fifth person in the house and lone survivor of the blaze was identified as Stephen Banovich, 63, Sheridan Banovich’s husband.

Read More »

PROBE INTO DEADLY FIRE CONTINUES

135-statesir-2The scene at 135 Statesir Place Tuesday morning. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office continues to investigate the deadly fire that ripped through a Statesir Place home early this morning, First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said.

The names of the four people who were killed in the blaze have not been released, pending notification of family members, he said.

“My people are out there doing their due diligence,” Gramiccioni said.

Read More »

RUMSON MAN ARRESTED FOR CHILD PORN

By DUSTIN RACIOPPIauthorities2b

A Rumson man was arrested Friday on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said Tuesday.

Matthew Marass, 23, of Forrest Avenue, was charged with two counts of child pornography — one count for possession, and another for distribution, First Assistant Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said.

Read More »

CRASH KILLS TEEN, INJURES TWO MORE

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

[Editor’s Note: this story contains updated information from the Prosecutor’s Office]

just_in1

One teenager was killed and two others were seriously injured in an early-morning crash in Middletown Sunday, authorities said.

The crash, in which a 1992 Honda Accord hit a tree on Cooper Road, claimed the life of 18-year-old Paul Bradley.

The car’s driver, Adam Sofio, of Red Bank, and another passenger, John Vogel, were airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune with “serious, but non-life threatening injuries,” Administrative Assistant Prosecutor Michael Cunningham said.

Read More »

BOMB THREAT CASE HINGES ON PSYCH EVAL

bofaA view west along West River Road in Rumson late Tuesday afternoon as police responded to a bomb threat at the bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The suspect in Tuesday’s alleged bomb threat at the Rumson Bank of America is undergoing an involuntary three-day psychological evaluation, the results of which will determine the next step in the legal proceedings, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said Thursday.

James Dougherty, 63, of Highlands, is charged with making terroristic threats and causing a false public alarm after threatening to blow the bank up, Administrative Assistant Prosecutor Michael Cunningham said. If convicted, Dougherty faces up to five years in state prison, Cunningham said.

Following his arrest, Dougherty was taken to the Veterans Administration Hospital in East Orange for evaluation. Authorities aren’t certain if Dougherty is a veteran, Cunningham said.

“Once complete, the results will dictate what happens next,” Cunningham said. “It’s possible he’ll be sent to MCCI (Monmouth County Correctional Institution) or somewhere else, I don’t know. I don’t know what they’re going to determine.”

Read More »

PRE-CHRISTMAS ACCIDENT KILLED WOMAN

river-rd-accidentThe accident occurred on River Road in front of Acme. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

An Eatontown woman died after being struck by a vehicle on River Road in Fair Haven almost two weeks ago, authorities confirmed.

No charges have been filed against the driver, Mohsen Sarraf, of Rumson, who hit 52-year-old Keri Lee on December 20, Assistant Prosecutor Peter Warshaw said.

Read More »

AREA WHERE TEEN FELL WAS HANGOUT SPOT

hance-rd-houseThe vacant home on Hance Road where a Middletown teenager died Friday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Authorities have confirmed the death of a Middletown teenager who fell off the roof of a vacant Fair Haven house Friday night.

But few details are available because the incident remains under investigation, according to Peter Warshaw, of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, which is handling the case.

Zachary Buttler, of the Belford section of Middletown, died at 10:31p Friday, about two hours after the fall from the roof, Warshaw said.

Warshaw said Buttler, who was with a group of teenagers at the time, climbed onto the roof of 1 Hance Road, and Fair Haven police responded to the scene after the fall.

Read More »

LOCALS ARRESTED IN SEASTREAK TIX SCHEME

[SEE UPDATE BELOW]

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Four men were arrested Wednesday for selling fake boarding tickets for the SeaStreak commuter ferry, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office said.just_in1

Three of the men are locals, and all were charged with second-degree theft by deception, second-degree conspiracy, fourth-degree forgery and fourth-degree uttering a forged instrument.

Read More »