TOMS RIVER, N.J. – Police in New Jersey are crediting tips from the public for helping them charge a suspected cop-killer in a second homicide.
Jahmell Crockam, a 19-year-old from Lakewood, and a co-defendant, 20-year-old Darius Johnson of Howell Township, appeared in court Friday afternoon to face murder charges in the October 2010 shooting death of Justin Williams, 20, of Jackson Township.
Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said information developed while police were investigating the murder of Lakewood Patrolman Christopher Matlosz led them to believe Crockam was also responsible for the Williams killing.
Crockam is being held on a combined $7 million bail. Johnson is being held on $2 million bail.
Matlosz was laid to rest Thursday after a funeral attended by 10,000 law enforcement officers. He was gunned down as he sat in his patrol car a week ago.
"The important message to the public is we are working all these cases diligently," Ford said after the court appearance. "What makes the difference is when they come forward with information, even if it might seem insignificant to them."
Ford said that early on the morning of Oct. 15, 2010, police got a call about a body that had been dumped on a street corner in Lakewood. The victim had been shot to death.
But it was 2:20 a.m. and there were no witnesses around when authorities got there.
"We didn't have a whole lot of basis to file charges or identify a suspect," the prosecutor said. "When you have a body in the middle of the night, it makes it difficult to establish what happened."
The turning point came during the intense police dragnet following the Jan. 14 shooting death of Matlosz, who was gunned down behind the wheel of his patrol car after he drove up alongside a pedestrian and started talking to him. Authorities say that pedestrian was Crockam.
"Individuals came forward with some additional information we were able to follow through on," Ford said, declining to be more specific.
She would not say which of the two defendants authorities believe shot Williams, saying both suspects are legally responsible for his death.
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