After discovering human remains in a concrete-filled drum, authorities believed that it was the body of a young Jersey City mother who went missing in mid-August and charged her husband with murder. Now, police say that Steven Acuna probably strangled Amanda "Randy" Lehrer before folding her body into the drum. Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio said, "We believe this (murder) occurred during the course of a domestic violence situation and it could be that she was strangled. We believe it happened shortly after she was last seen alive."
Lehrer's disappearance worried family and friends, because the 32-year-old left behind her 10-month-old daughter. The drum was found in a Jersey City building where she and Acuna had lived on Friday, and some criticized the police for not finding it sooner. DeFazio explained, "Last week, based on further investigation, Jersey City police ascertained that tenants in the building had access to the basement. Based on that information they got permission from the owner of the property to inspect the basement. They discovered this barrel that was hidden by construction-type debris. And when they saw that barrel, based on good intuition, they said something didn’t look right about the barrel." Acuna will be arraigned today.
A tattoo was found on the remains—it said, "Laugh Now Cry Later," which is what helped corroborate the remains to Lehrer. Lehrer's boss at Tommy's Restaurant, Tommy Diakos, told the Jersey Journal that her daughter turned one yesterday, "I never thought he (Acuna) would do something like that. He was very quiet when he came here. I hope she rests in peace. The baby is going to miss her more than anybody else." And a neighbor said, "The community failed her. This is heinous. How do you take a mother away from a 1-year-old child?"