By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr
Freehold – A Monmouth County grand jury returned a 6-count indictment Monday charging a Long Branch man, who was a convicted sex offender, with the strangulation murders of a city woman and her foster daughter, and child pornography-related charges connected to the young murder victim, Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.
Brian Farmer, 59, of John Street, Long Branch, was named Monday in an indictment charging him with two counts of first degree Murder for causing the death of Joan Colbert, 62, and her 10-year-old foster daughter Veronica Roach, one count of first degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, one count of second degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child and two counts of third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child. The Endangering charges are related for Farmer causing or permitting a child to engage in child pornography, for the manufacture of child pornography and for the possession of child pornography.
The murders occurred at Colbert’s first floor apartment at 61 Lippincott Avenue and shocked the city. For 13 days the Long Branch Police Department and detectives from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office worked around the clock investigating every possible lead.
The investigation revealed Farmer was at the home on July 30, 2014, where he was discovered by Colbert taking pornographic photographs of the 10-year-old girl. A confrontation ensued ending with Farmer killing Colbert and the girl. Farmer then fled the scene of his crimes.
Detectives discovered pornographic pictures of the 10-year-old victim on Farmer’s cellular phone prompting the child endangerment charges. Farmer is accused of causing the girl to engage in a prohibited sexual act while simultaneously photographing the girl; photographing the girl while engaged in a prohibited sexual act; engaging in sexual conduct with the child; and possession of child pornography. An autopsy determined both deaths were the result of a homicide, and both victims died as the result of strangulation.
Just hours after he was arrested on August 13, 2014, and his criminal history was reveled, people were asking how Farmer could have been on the streets in the first place. His violent past dates back to the 1970’s. Six years ago he was released from East Jersey State Prison, where he served 13 years for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a 15-year old girl, who was the daughter of his girlfriend at the time.
During that attack, Farmer was armed with a knife. He held the girl and her mother hostage for days, until they escaped. In a violent outrage he burned down their Long Branch home. In 1996, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison for those crimes. A check of the criminal data base shows that he was released in October 2009.
When Farmer was released, he was labeled a Tier Two sex offender, meaning that the chances of him repeating the crimes were low or moderate according to New Jersey standards. However, registered sex offenders are not permitted to live near a school. At the time of the murders Farmer was living in his son’s home on John Street, just two houses away from the Amerigo A. Anastasia Elementary School, where Veronica Roach attended.
Another disturbing fact about Farmer is that he actually showed up at the funerals of Colbert and Roach.
If convicted of both charges of first degree Murder, Farmer faces a New Jersey state prison sentence of Life without the possibility of parole.
Farmer faces a state prison sentence of 10 to 20 years for first degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child, and faces a state prison sentence of 5 to 10 years on the second degree charge for the same offense. On each of the third degree Endangering the Welfare of a Child charges, Farmer faces a state prison sentence of 3 to 5 years.
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 Senior Litigation Counsel Thomas Huth, and Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Lipp, Director of the Office’s Professional Responsibility and Bias Crime Bureau.
Farmer is being held in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution, Freehold Township, on $2.56 million cash-only bail, as set by then-Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Francis J. Vernoia, who recently received a temporary assignment to the state Appellate Division.