Yesterday, authorities announced that four men had been arrested in the fatal carjacking of a NJ lawyer who had finished shopping at a mall. Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murray credited "good old-fashioned police work," using tips, forensic evidence and the power of local, state and federal authorities. And it turns out that one of the suspects was caught because the vehicle used to drive to the mall was his mother's car.
On Sunday, December 15, Dustin Friedland and his wife were getting into their 2012 Range Rover, parked in the parking deck of the Mall at Shorts Hills. After Friedland closed his wife's door and went to the driver's side, he was confronted by two men. After a struggle, Friedland was fatally shot in the head and the men forced out Friedland's wife, taking the Range Rover. Police had mentioned that the suspects were in a SUV, and that it was also used in the getaway.
According to the Star-Ledger, the getaway car was a Suburban—which was found on Wednesday: "[A] green Chevrolet Suburban, caught on surveillance video menacingly circling the parking areas of the Mall at Short Hills, was discovered abandoned in South Orange, according to two law enforcement sources. The large sports utility vehicle, they would later find out, belonged to the mother of one of the suspects in the fatal carjacking." Friedland's car was found abandoned in Newark on Monday.
The suspects, who face charges of felony murder carjacking conspiracy and weapons possession, are Karif Ford, 31; Basim Henry, 32; Kevin Roberts, 35; all of Newark; and Hanif Thompson, 29, of Irvington. It is not clear who was the gunman, but authorities say all were present. The Post notes that the four have broken the law in the past:
All four — who face possible life sentences — have rap sheets stretching back years that include multiple burglary and drug counts.
Thompson, who has done more than a dozen stints in the Essex County Jail, was released on Dec. 11 after serving time on a burglary charge.
Roberts has been arrested 13 times on narcotics and weapons offenses. Both Ford and Henry were sent to prison in 2003 — Ford for burglary and Henry for bank robbery, records show.
Henry finished federal prison time eight months ago for a robbery in which he put a gun to the head of a Union Township bank employee.
Dustin and Jamie Friedland
When asked if he thought his brother could be a murderer, Roberts' brother told the Post, "I don’t know."
The investigation is still ongoing, but Star-Ledger columnist Mark DiIonno writes, "[W]hen they were taken down, the four went easy, according to a law enforcement source, apparently not so tough when the other guy has a gun, too. And apparently not too loyal, either. While in custody, 'they were good boys,' the source said. 'They did a lot of talking.'"
Friedland's wife issued a statement, "We are very grateful to the Essex County Police and all of the local authorities for pursuing this so vigorously."