Friday, September 21, 2012

A Community Braces as Fears of Serial Killer in Bergen County After Third Body Found

There have been no arrests and still unsolved; two murders, one in Teaneck, the other in Palisades Park, both in 2010. The victims were Joan Davis [72] (Teaneck) and Dolores Alliotts [69] (Palisades Park). The crimes were eerily similar: both elderly women, both beaten, stabbed and their homes set on fire. Then in 2011 Robert Cantor, 59-year-old software engineer from Teaneck, NJ was also killed in his home, suffering a gunshot wound prior to the fire being set. I reported on these incidents back then and was among the very first to ask: is there a serial killer in Bergen County? Read HERE and HERE.

Since then, the Cantor murder appears to have been solved. Sui Kam Tung, a New York City man, has since been arrested and charged with murder and arson in the death of Robert Cantor. Authorities depicted the murder as a love triangle turned deadly. Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli stated that Tung allegedly learned that his wife was romantically involved with Cantor back in 2010 and “began a pattern of stalking the victim,” which ultimately and allegedly led to his murder. With that one out of the way, we return to the latest on the possibility of a serial killer in Bergen County.

On 21 March 2011, Prosecutor Molinelli made a public statement asserting that the murders of two Teaneck residents over the last several months are not linked and there is no ongoing threat to the community. Prosecutor Molinelli added, “If authorities believed there was any ongoing threat to Teaneck residents—including a possible serial killer—[they] would have alerted the public immediately.”
That was until a fourth victim, 70 year old Barbara Vernieri, an East Rutherford, NJ widow was found beaten to death, her home set ablaze mid-morning on Friday, 14 September 2012. Prosecutor Molinelli spoke of the complexity of the situation, explaining that Vernieri was a successful real estate broker, therefore, investigators will have to sift through “hundreds of transactions and potential witnesses.” He also insisted that the murders from two years ago had not “gone cold,” and that “Those are still very active investigations.”

Prosecutor Molinelli briefed reporters late Monday, confirming that Vernieri was beaten to death, with blows to her head and upper body and an accelerant was poured on her body, and ignited. He also said that while he cannot exclude Vernieri’s murderer as someone who was responsible for the murders of Ms. Davis and Ms. Alliotts, he claimed that he is also not saying that it is definitively the same person.

The fire at Vernieri’s home, unlike the other deaths, was extinguished quickly, because the tenant who lived upstairs called the police and reported the fire so fast. This may have saved some vital physical evidence, but we won’t know that until police report on it further. Investigators report that they are hopeful they will find evidence to either link or exclude the murders from two years ago.

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