Carlos Menjivar of Long Branch charged with double murders

Long Branch – Carlos I. Menjivar, 22, of North Fifth Ave., was arrested on December 16, 2014 for the gruesome double homicide that occurred on March 25, 2013 at an apartment house located at 418 Sairs Avenue.

According to Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Menjivar was arrested on Tuesday night and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Bail was set at $2 million by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Francis J. Vernoia, P.J.Cr., with no 10 percent option. Menjivar is currently being held at the Monmouth County Correctional Facility in Freehold.

The bodies of Maria Yolanda Cotejo-Munzo, 35, and that of Feredis Venturo, 33, were discovered after Long Branch Police were investigating a missing persons report. According to law enforcement, Cotejo-Munoz was last reported being seen around noon on March 24, 2013.

Police who had responded to the apartment on Sairs Avenue found what unofficial sources said was a very bloody crime scene. It was reported that both victims had suffered from multiple sharp force injuries.

Catejo-Munoz had immigrated to the United States from Chile, where she had a young daughter who stayed. Catejo-Munoz had come to this country with a hope of creating a better life for herself and one day had plans on bringing her daughter here. She found employment as a housekeeper.

Ventura was also an immigrant, who came from El Salvador. He was working as a carpenter at the time of his murder. Both victims were romantically involved and had meet each other at a night spot in Eatontown.

An intense investigation was started by the Long Branch Police Department, Monmouth County Sherriff and Prosecutor’s offices. Charles Webster, official spokesperson for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, did confirm that Menjivar was living in Long Branch since the murders.

Rumors had circulated following the killings that the murderer might have fled the country. However, Menjivar never left the city. Some also speculated that he might have been an ex-boyfriend or spouse of Catejo-Munoz. Webster has stated that neither of those statements are true. He would not go into detail how Menjivar knew the victims.

Asked if someone came forward with information or was DNA evidence used to narrow down Menjivar as the killer, Webster stated that he could not comment on that question.

The bodies Catejo-Munoz and Ventura were both sent back to their native countries for burial.

Webster stated that anyone with information on these killings should contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau at 1-800-553-7443.

Long Branch man arrested for 2013 double murder

(FREEHOLD) A Long Branch man was arrested and charged for the 2013 double murder of two individuals found dead inside a Sairs Avenue apartment, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Carlos I. Menjivar, 22, of 45 North Fifth Ave., in Long Branch, is charged with two counts of first degree Murder and one count of third degree Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose. He is currently being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, on $2 million bail with no 10 percent option, as set by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Francis J. Vernoia, P.J.Cr.

Menjivar was arrested following a joint investigation by this Office’s Major Crimes Bureau with the Long Branch Police Department and Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation began after Maria Catejo-Munoz, 35, of Long Branch, was reported missing around noon on Sunday, March 24, prompting a search for her whereabouts. The search led Long Branch Police to the Sairs Avenue apartment of Fredis O. Ventura, 33, who was romantically involved with Cotejo-Munoz, around 4 p.m. on March 25, 2013. The pair was discovered dead inside the apartment.

If convicted of Murder, Menjivar faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole in a New Jersey state prison. If convicted of Possession of Weapon for an Unlawful purpose, he faces a sentence of up to five years in state prison.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau at 1-800-533-7443.

Police have not released any details on how they caught or suspected Menjivar in the double murder. However, at the time of the killings people close to the victims stated that a former boyfriend or ex-husband was involved.

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.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Thomas Huth, Director of the Major Crimes Bureau and Matthew Bogner, of the Office’s Major Crimes Bureau.

This is a breaking news story (12-17-14 at 6:30 p.m.) check back with us for updates

Police announced on December 17, 2014 that they arrested Carlos I. Menjivar, 22, of 45 North Fifth Ave., in Long Branch for the March 25, 2013 double homicide at 418 Sairs Ave., Long Branch.

School and PBA pull together for the community

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr

Long Branch – For the past four years the Long Branch Public Schools and PBA Local 10 of Long Branch have partnered together to help make the holidays for those less fortunate in the city look brighter and provide smiles for those in need.

Long Branch Public Schools Student Services Program Supervisor Tara Puleio and Long Branch Police Detective Michael Decker, who is also the President of PBA Local 10, stand with some of the items that will be given away on Saturday at the 2014 Community Holiday Celebration at Gregory School.

Saturday, December 20, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. a Community Holiday Celebration will be held at the Gregory Elementary School located at 201 Monmouth Avenue in Long Branch. “We will have family style meals, pictures with Santa, and fun activities for the children and much more,” said Tara Puleio, Student Services Program Supervisor for the LBPS. “Our biggest supporter over the past four years have been PBA Local 10 of Long Branch. The officers have donated coats, shoes, boots, toys and Christmas trees with decorations. At a time when communities around the country are upset with law enforcement, we get to show the positive side of what these brave men and women do for our community.”

All Long Branch residents are welcome to attend the celebration on Saturday. Puleio stated that they will even have a gift shop set up for students to get those last minute gifts for family members.

Former Long Branch man indicted for death of Monmouth University student

Driver had Suspended License, Under the Influence of a Prescription Drug

Victoria Trooper was struck and killed by a car driven by Joseph Stovall of Long Branch on September 11, 2013.

(FREEHOLD) A Monmouth County grand jury returned an indictment today against a former Long Branch man charged with killing a Monmouth University student who was outside her vehicle following a minor fender bender with another vehicle on Joline Avenue in the city in September 2013, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Joseph Stovall, 47, of now of Nathalie, Virginia, was named in the four-count indictment charging him with first degree Vehicular Homicide, third degree Causing Death While Driving While Suspended, third degree Assault by Auto, and second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

If convicted of Vehicular Homicide, Stovall faces up to 20 years in a New Jersey state prison, subject to the provisions of the “No Early Release Act” (NERA) requiring him to serve 85 percent of the sentence imposed before becoming eligible for release on parole. He would also be under parole supervision for five years following his release from state prison.

If convicted of the third degree offenses, Stovall faces a sentence of three to five years in prison on each count. If convicted of Endangering the Welfare of a Child, he faces up to ten 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.

Long Branch police responded to the report of a motor vehicle accident along Joline Avenue around 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2013. Victoria Tropper, 21, a Monmouth University student, and Thomas Triano, 49, were involved in a minor fender bender and pulled their vehicles into the shoulder to inspect the damage and exchange information. The two were standing between their respective vehicles when the Dodge Ram pick-up truck driven by Stovall swerved into the shoulder colliding with Tropper’s vehicle pushing it into Triano causing multiple lacerations before striking and killing Tropper. At the time of the collision, Stovall was driving with a suspended driver’s license and with a 4-year-old child unrestrained inside the truck. The child was not harmed. An investigation also determined Stovall was driving under the influence of Alprazolam, despite not having a valid prescription for the drug.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Falco of the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau. Stovall is represented by Charles Moriarty, Esq., of Red Bank.

Here is the link to the story following her death;

Monmouth County Sheriff & Prosecutor warn against boaters in restricted waterways to ensure Homeland Security efforts

Monmouth County: Sheriff Shaun Golden and Acting Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni are reminding boaters, kayakers and swimmers to adhere to the rules of the Naval Weapons Station Earle’s Marine Security Zone.

“Recently, Earle has experienced several non -hostile incidents dealing with unauthorized boaters to the Marine Security Zone,” said Sheriff Shaun Golden. “Boaters must obey the rules and not cross into restricted waterways, since that type of activity may obstruct our homeland security efforts which help protect us from terrorism and safeguards Monmouth County.”

Naval Weapons Station Earle loads and unloads munitions from the pier in Leonardo, away from populated areas. The Marine Security Zone is four square miles and located in between Belford Harbor and the Leonardo State Marina, where commercial boats, swimmers and kayakers are prohibited from entering. It was formed in 1943 and expanded after the September 11th Attacks.

During the fishing season there’s an increase in boaters that frequent the waterways and cross into the security zone. The restricted waters are marked by Navy buoys and shown on the navigational charts for Lower New York Harbor.

Earle expects to see fewer boaters throughout the winter, but wants to create awareness prior to next spring’s fishing and boating season and has issued a notice and map, to notify the public.

“Our agencies are eager to help spread this important message so boaters adhere to the rules. We must be vigilant on our waterways in an effort to maintain public safety and bolster our homeland security capabilities,” said Acting Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni.

Trespassers to the Naval Weapons Station Earle’s Marine Security Zone will face a warning or fine issued by Earle or the U.S. Coast Guard.

Are you ready for winter?

Are you ready for winter? Here are some tips from FEMA to help you get ready.

Before Winter Storms & Extreme Cold: To prepare for a winter storm you should do the following:
Before winter approaches, build an Emergency/Disaster Kit:

An emergency/disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.

Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit: A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
• Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
• Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Whistle to signal for help
• Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Manual can opener for food
• Local maps
• Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Here are some other supplies you might want to keep ready:
• Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency for a complete list of recommended products.
• Sand to improve traction.
• Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
• Sufficient heating fuel. You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
• Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm.
• Make a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
• Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
• Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supplies kit in your vehicle.
• Bring pets/companion animals inside during winter weather. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.

Family Communications Plan
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another. Think about how you will communicate in different situations.

Complete a contact card for each adult family member. Have them keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse or briefcase, etc. Additionally, complete contact cards for each child in your family. Put the cards in their backpacks or book bags.

Check with your children’s day care or school. Facilities designed for children should include identification planning as part of their emergency plans.

Family Communication Tips
Identify a contact such as a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify they are safe. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.

Teach family members how to use text messaging (also known as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.

Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Sign up by visiting your local Office of Emergency Management web site.

Winterize Your Vehicle
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
• Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
• Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
• Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
• Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
• Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
• Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
• Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
• Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
• Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
• Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
• Install good winter tires – Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.

Update the emergency kits in your vehicles with:
• a shovel
• windshield scraper and small broom
• flashlight
• battery powered radio
• extra batteries
• water
• snack food
• matches
• extra hats, socks and mittens
• first aid kit with pocket knife
• necessary medications
• blanket(s)
• tow chain or rope
• road salt and sand
• booster cables
• emergency flares
• fluorescent distress flag

Winterize Your Home
• Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
• Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
• Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
• Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
• All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
• Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
• Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
• Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
• Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

Know the Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:
• Freezing Rain – Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
• Sleet – Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
• Winter Weather Advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life threatening.
• Winter Storm Watch – A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for more information.
• Winter Storm Warning – A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
• Blizzard Warning – Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
• Frost/Freeze Warning – Below freezing temperatures are expected.

Carbon Monoxide
Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills
• Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal¬ burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
• The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.
• Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
• If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door.
• Call for help from the fresh air location and remain there until emergency personnel arrive to assist you.

Referendum vote in Ocean on December 9th

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 between the hours of 7:00 a.m. -to- 9:00 p.m. the residents of Ocean Township are asked to vote on a $28.9 million referendum proposed by the Board of Education.

The referendum project includes facilities additions and renovations at each of the district’s five schools. The program includes renovations to many of the core spaces as well as upgrades to instructional spaces and mechanical and electrical infrastructure.

Ocean Township Immediate School ($1.75 million):
• Renovation to the grades 6, 7 & 8 science labs for STEM studies
• HVAC upgrades

Wayside Elementary School ($3.4 million):
• An addition of six (6) Small Group Instruction (SGI) Classrooms
• Art and music room upgrades (including casework finishing and lighting)
• Upgrades to the cafeteria serving area
• HVAC upgrades
• Installation of a sound amplification system

Ocean Township Elementary School ($1.9 million):
• Art and music room upgrades (casework and finishes)
• HVAC upgrade
• Installation of a sound amplification system

Wanamassa Elementary School ($6.4 million):
• Addition of a gymnasium, classroom, and art and music rooms
• Renovation to the multipurpose room to create a cafeteria with storage and serving areas
• Playground and parking lot upgrades
• HVAC upgrades
• Installation of a sound amplification system

Ocean Township High School ($15.4 million):
• Renovation and addition to the performing arts auditorium to create a dance studio, a music technology classroom, a new band room and a black box theater.
• Creation of the physical performance and wellness center with a two-story addition and a one-story gymnasium that will contain fitness center and wrestling room, a sports medicine classroom and a fitness center.
• HVAC upgrades
What is this referendum going to cost Ocean Township residents?
• Because the bond from the 1995 referendum is being paid off, there will not be a debt service tax increase with this referendum. The new debt will replace the retiring debt with each taxpayer paying no more in the debt service tax than they are currently paying.
The goals of the proposed referendum are:
• To maintain fiscal responsibility in the district,
• To increase energy efficiency for long-term savings,
• To enhance the facilities for the study of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM),
• To enhance the study of the fine and performing arts,
• To enhance the study of physical performance and wellness,
• To continue to be pioneers in the area of academics, arts, and athletics,
• To provide the necessary facilities for both students and the community, and
• To modernize the facilities for health and safety of faculty, staff, and students,

Grand Jury Indicts suspended attorney from Jersey City for stealing family estate funds

Hudson County Man Took Over $469K from the Estates of an Aunt and Cousin

(FREEHOLD) A Monmouth County grand jury returned a 4-count indictment Monday against a temporarily suspended Jersey City attorney charged with stealing more than $469,000 from the estates of two family members, announced Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

John F. Hamill, 62, of Jersey City, was named in the 4-count indictment charging him with two counts of second degree Misapplication of Entrusted Property and two counts of second degree Theft by Failure to Make a Required Disposition.

Hamill was arrested in October after an investigation revealed he stole about $469,544 from the Estates of an aunt and a cousin where he was named executor. Hamill is currently being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, on $200,000 bail with no option to post 10 percent, as set by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Francis J. Vernoia, P.J.Cr.

Hamill deposited into his personal checking account about $263,097 from the Estate of an aunt, from North Bergen, and spent the money for payment of debts and for personal expenses. The investigation also revealed, the amount stolen equals the amount of Federal taxes that remain due on the estate.

Hamill also stole about $206,447 from the Estate of a cousin, from Sea Girt, making numerous cash withdrawals he utilized for payment of debts and to pay for personal lifestyle activities.

If convicted, he faces a sentence of five to 10 years in a New Jersey state prison on each of the charges.

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.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Barbara Suppa, of the Office’s Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau.

Colonial American Bank to host Holiday Bazaar

Shrewsbury — Colonial American Bank invites the community to support local businesses at its second annual Holiday Bazaar, Wednesday, December 3, 6-9 p.m., at the Shrewsbury branch office, 490-B Shrewsbury Plaza at Route 35 and Shrewsbury Avenue.
In support of the Shop Local Campaign, the bank opens the branch to allow local merchants to display their gift items for the community to browse and buy. The holiday mood will include festive music and refreshments.

“We are pleased to support our local merchants and their holiday merchandise — from jewelry and art and crafts, to clothing, accessories and home goods, and even cigars,” said Sharon Franklin, Vice President, Shrewsbury branch manager. “Come out in support of our local businesses and cross some holiday shopping off your to-do-list!”

For more information, call the Colonial American Bank Shrewsbury branch office at 732-389-9500.

Shrewsbury Volkswagen Gives Thanks

Shrewsbury Volkswagen Aided in Ocean Township’s Annual Thanksgiving Charity.

Tinton Falls, NJ, November 22, 2014- Shrewsbury Volkswagen, located at 702 Shrewsbury Ave gave thanks this past weekend as they contributed with Ocean Township’s annual Thanksgiving Holiday Assistance Program

Shrewsbury Volkswagen worked closely with Ocean Township’s Community Hope Fund, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth development and supports charitable needs, in their Thanksgiving Food Drive this year. Shrewsbury Volkswagen donated three vehicles to be used and employees of the dealership volunteered their time for the day to help distribute food baskets to families in need.

The Thanksgiving Food Drive has been a success as these meals serve approximately 150 families and individuals in the area each year. Shrewsbury Volkswagen is thankful they were able to contribute their time to this worthwhile cause.

About Shrewsbury Volkswagen

As the number one dealer in Central Jersey, Shrewsbury Volkswagen takes exceptional care of customers well after they have made their investment.  They have been family owned and operated in Central Jersey since 1984 and since then they’ve been elevating Volkswagen know-how in every aspect to make sure your visit is exceptional. Customer satisfaction is their top priority and they want to make each and every car sale as pleasant and hassle-free as possible. They will also take care of regular maintenance and check-ups to ensure your Volkswagen is running in prime condition, and give professional care at a low cost to you