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Thread: Jordan Voorhees

  1. #1

    colors Jordan Voorhees

    Gerald Toscano was familiar with the marshes off Route 7 in Kearny, a slice of the Meadowlands where he'd often go to trap turtles and muskrats and fish for carp.
    It was in those murky waters where authorities said Toscano and his son dumped the body of Jordan Voorhees, a 22-year-old relative who had been living in the Toscanos' Belleville home for the last six months.

    Police yesterday charged Toscano, 46, and his son, Peter, 20, with fatally shooting Voorhees in their home last weekend and using a rowboat to dump his body in the Meadowlands. The body has not yet been found despite an intensive search that was temporarily suspended.
    "We have no doubt in our mind something horrific happened at that house," Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow said during an afternoon news conference.
    According to authorities, the drama began early Sunday morning when Voorhees and the younger Toscano, his cousin, got into a heated argument. While Voorhees was in the living room of the family's home, his cousin allegedly shot him multiple times with a handgun.
    At the sound of gunshots, Gerald Toscano rushed to his son and the two men decided to dispose of the body, Assistant Prosecutor William Neafsey said.
    "He and his father conspired to jointly murder the nephew and cousin," he said. "They both removed the body from the house and took it in a pickup truck where they disposed of it in the Meadowlands."
    Rumors of the killing have been swirling around Toscano's Smallwood Avenue neighborhood for days. Police, crime scene investigators and others had been in and out of the house all week, neighbor Beverly Glunk said. Yesterday, a police car was parked outside the family's two-story home, which sits less than 200 feet away from Belleville School 10.
    "We've heard this happened but the police wouldn't tell us anything and when we asked told us to step back," Glunk said after learning her neighbors had been charged with murder. "I'm sick to my stomach if this is true."
    Neighbors said the family kept to themselves. The elder Toscano was rarely seen and Peter Toscano, known around the neighborhood as "P.J," had recently returned from a stint in the Navy. ........

  2. #2

    Default Re: Jordan Voorhees

    A haunting mystery: Man says he dumped his dead cousin in Meadowlands, but where is the body?

    Kevin Manahan/ By Kevin Manahan/
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    on July 29, 2012 at 6:00 AM, updated July 29, 2012 at 9:19 AM

    View full sizeJerry McCrea/The Star-LedgerJustin Voorhees stands in the Meadowlands where the body of his brother, Jordan, was allegedly left after their cousin killed him. On his left arm is a tattoo dedicated to Justin.
    KEARNY — Just off Belleville Turnpike, in a marshy industrial area of graffiti-covered loading docks and abandoned radio-station antennas, a religious candle burns at the base of a scruffy tree. It’s there, near the gravel path that leads to a power substation. Past the empty beer cans and crushed bait containers, you’ll find the makeshift memorial of teddy bears and seashells, where gnats and mosquitoes pay their respects around the clock.
    Google Earth says this is Kearny. One look around says it’s the middle of nowhere.
    Jessica Calicchio comes here often to make sure the flame still flickers, and she waits for a message from beyond, a sign, anything. Nearly four years ago, her 22-year-old boyfriend, Jordan Voorhees, was shot twice in the head by his cousin, and the body supposedly dumped somewhere in this Meadowlands maze of reeds and lagoons — the graveyard, history says, for many bad deeds.
    Investigators were never able to find the body or determine whether the killer, Peter Toscano, and his father, Gerald, actually discarded it where Gerald said they did.
    "Jordan is out here, somewhere. I know it," Calicchio says as she tidies up the memorial and lights a new candle. "I’m not going to give up. He would want me to find him. He would want me to keep looking."
    Jordan’s older brother Justin Voorhees is also looking — his mother’s deathbed words, he says, were "find your brother"
    But where to look? With a confession in hand, Essex County investigators abandoned the search after two weeks of erratic canvassing, interrupted by bad weather, in the fall of 2008. In the end, they were convinced the body had been dumped elsewhere, had floated out with the tides or had become food for crabs, according to Anthony Ambrose, chief of investigators for the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.
    Originally, they believed the body would be easy to find — either by divers, because Peter Toscano, an obsessive weightlifter, probably had sunk the body with a weight, or because, unweighted and bloated, the body eventually would float to the surface of the cold murky waters.
    But it never appeared.
    On a small island, police found blue tarps that had held the body, garbage bags, two blood-stained pillows, a blood-soaked fitted sheet and Voorhees’ blue jeans. But no body nearby. Yeah, Gerald Toscano told them, that’s where he and his son had flung Voorhees into the water.
    Family, friends and investigators were not convinced, however. A PSE&G technician, Gerald Toscano also was a licensed mortician.
    View full sizeJordan Voorhees, shown in a picture courtesy of Jessica Calicchio
    When investigators gave up the search, Calicchio — heartbroken to have lost the man she loved — spent $1,000 on a small boat and combed the waters for months on her own. She pleaded, unsuccessfully, for help from privately funded search teams that volunteer to look for missing people, including an organization that searched for Caylee Anthony.
    "How does a body disappear?" she asks. "If they were telling the truth, it would have been found."
    To this day, she is haunted by the thought that her boyfriend remains unretrieved. She wants whatever is left of him to have a proper burial. She wants a grave she can visit, not a homemade memorial that is, at best, a guesstimate of where he might be — based on the words of a felon who treated her boyfriend like garbage.
    She said she is hoping, with the case long over, someone who knows something — the Toscanos, for instance — will come forward and point to where the body really is. Just 23 years old, she wonders if she’ll ever be able to move on with her life until that happens. She admits she has been "drifting" ever since a handgun, pointed in anger, wrecked her world.
    She is an intelligent, well-spoken woman, still grieving and struggling to finish college — all while caught in the middle of a Toscano civil war between the killers and the victims.
    "With the amount of time and the environmental issues, it’s unlikely that the remains will be recovered," Ambrose says.
    The killing stunned the Belleville neighborhood surrounding 56 Smallwood Ave. With one of his father’s pistols, Peter "P.J." Toscano pumped two bullets into his cousin (two shots missed) as Voorhees lay on a couch in the Toscano living room on a Sunday morning in October 2008, according to police reports and court documents.
    Why? Only the killer knows, and he isn’t talking. Police say Peter Toscano never made a statement to them, and his lawyer, Robert DeGroot of Newark, says that by the time the killing was reported and police suspected Peter Toscano, he had lawyered-up with DeGroot.
    "I came in and said, ‘We’re not talking to anybody.’ Let that be a lesson to people: Get a lawyer as soon as possible," DeGroot says.
    The only version of the events has come from Gerald Toscano, the only other person in the house when the shots were fired, according to him. He helped his son ditch the body, then, in a surge of conscience, called police to report the crimes, DeGroot said.
    Here’s what Gerald Toscano said happened, according to a report from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office:
    Gerald Toscano was making tea in the kitchen when he heard shots. He hustled into the living room to find Voorhees on the floor, bleeding from the head but still breathing. Peter Toscano held a pistol — one of 72 guns police found in the home, all legal and all belonging to Gerald Toscano, a gun enthusiast and avid hunter. DeGroot says the firearms were locked up, but Peter Toscano knew where the key was.
    "What have you done?" Gerald Toscano said he asked his son.
    "I’m tired of Jordan drinking and doing drugs in our house," Peter Toscano replied.
    Gerald Toscano realized Voorhees was still alive — barely. But he didn’t call 911 to try to save him.
    View full sizeStar-Ledger file photoPeter Toscano is sentenced to 13 years in prison for the aggravated manslaughter of his cousin, Jordan Voorhees.
    "Just finish it," police say he told his son. And after the father fled into the backyard to vomit, he heard the final shot.
    Neighbors told police they had heard arguing inside the house around 7:45 a.m., but not the shots. Later, they said they saw Peter Toscano burning items in the backyard.
    Within minutes of the killing, Peter Toscano retrieved two blue tarps from the garage, Gerald Toscano said, according to the investigators’ report. The two wrapped the body, dragged it through the dining room and kitchen and out the back door, then loaded it into the family’s Chevrolet Silverado. A small rowboat, flipped upside down, hid the body as it lay in the bed of the truck.
    The men drove roughly four miles to the marshes — an area familiar to Gerald Toscano, because he had been going there since childhood to trap turtles and muskrats and fish for carp. They paddled out and tossed the body overboard, Gerald Toscano said.
    They sped home to clean up before the rest of the family returned, but failed. Consuelo Toscano, Voorhees’ aunt, told police she had taken her daughter for a driving lesson. When they returned to the vacant home, the daughter contacted Calicchio, asking if she knew Jordan’s whereabouts. There was blood in the living room, she texted in a panic, but no one was home. Jordan’s shoes were there, but he wasn’t.
    At some point, according to the report and Peter Toscano’s lawyer, the two men mopped up blood and painted over stains on the wall, but police still found evidence of the killing — blood and brain matter — when they were called to the house Sunday night by Gerald Toscano. He told police he believed they would be caught and was fearful his son would commit suicide, the report said.
    The Navy says that at the time of the killing Peter Toscano was a deserter who had left his post as a seaman on the USS George Washington. Navy records indicate he has been dishonorably discharged.
    With a drug-addicted mother and a father who wasn’t around since before he was a teenager, Jordan Voorhees had lived two troubled decades, mostly in Bloomfield. His brother, Justin — part big brother, part surrogate dad — battled drugs and served time for receiving stolen property.
    The Voorhees were family outcasts as Jordan Voorhees grasped for normalcy. He loved to skateboard and taught himself how to play the guitar. He, too, had demons — Ecstasy and alcohol, his brother said. "I blame myself for not teaching him better," Justin Voorhees, now 30, says. "If I had done a better job, maybe he wouldn’t have had to live with my uncle. He’d still be alive."
    As he talks, he runs his right hand over a 3-week-old tattoo on his left biceps: an angel protecting a sleeping baby, with "R.I.P." across the top and "Jordan Voorhees 1986-2008" below.
    "He’s still my baby brother," Justin Voorhees says. "Always will be."
    View full sizeJerry McCrea/The Star-LedgerA memorial to Jordan Voorhees in the Meadowlands near Kearny.
    His family unsettled, Jordan Voorhees bounced from place to place. Consuelo Toscano allowed her sister’s child to live in the basement, but her husband and son made life miserable, Calicchio says.
    "They thought of him as a nuisance," she says. "Gerald would pick fights with him all the time. He would wake Jordan up at 4 a.m. and say, ‘This is the time real men wake up,’ and stuff like that. They would drive him out of the house, and his aunt would ask him to come back."
    DeGroot says Voorhees’ persistent drug problem pushed the younger Toscano to his breaking point, "but I’m not saying that’s a reason to shoot him."
    He added: "There was a history of bringing people they didn’t want around into the house — drug-scene people. He would bring them in when his aunt and uncle were asleep."
    Calicchio says Voorhees was off drugs, had been working full time at a cemetery and was "getting his life together."
    Without a body, investigators had only Gerald Toscano’s confession. Legal experts couldn’t remember the last time there had been a conviction for a killing in New Jersey without a body.
    Prosecutors knew that if the case went to trial, the Toscanos could point a finger at each other in a clever defense strategy, creating reasonable doubt and beating the raps.
    DeGroot said he warned prosecutors he would challenge the admissibility of every sentence of the father’s confession as it related to Peter Toscano.
    Thomas Fennelly, Essex County’s chief assistant prosecutor in the homicide unit, said prosecutors handling the case "evaluated the admissible evidence that existed at the time and then tendered the plea offer."
    Voorhees’ family and DeGroot agree: It was a generous deal.
    The younger Toscano was sentenced to 13 years for aggravated manslaughter and moving human remains, and the older Toscano received a year for obstruction of justice. Gerald Toscano was freed after three months, and Peter Toscano, who likely will serve 11 years, remains imprisoned and silent.
    "Three months for ordering his son to ‘finish it,’ " Calicchio says. "Can you believe that? And 11 years for shooting someone in the head in cold blood. Is that justice?"

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    Multiple interview requests for Gerald Toscano, made through DeGroot, were denied. Interview requests sent to Peter Toscano at South Woods State Prison went unanswered. Calicchio and her mother, Suzanne Papa of Bloomfield, said they, too, have sent Peter Toscano a letter, but he has not responded. Al Toscano, an uncle, told The Star-Ledger in an e-mail that Peter Toscano "will make no further statement about the case, or anything pertaining to the case," nor will "anyone in the Toscano family."
    "Gerald has said what happened," DeGroot says. "It is what it is."
    Voorhees’ brother, Justin, filed a civil lawsuit against the Toscanos recently, but he says it’s not for the money. Gerald and Consuelo Toscano, now divorced, are broke, according to DeGroot, who represents Gerald in the civil suit. Justin Voorhees said he wants the opportunity to do something investigators couldn’t: Question Peter Toscano.
    "He gets out in 2019," Justin Voorhees says. "I hope all the hate I have goes away by then. I hope I can make peace by then."
    He strokes the tattoo again and says the next one will be a memorial to his mother, who got clean in 2001 and reunited with her sons, only to be diagnosed with lung and brain cancer in 2008. She died three months after her son was killed.
    "Right before she died, she said, ‘Find your brother,’ " Justin Voorhees recalls. "If Jordan is out there, we need to find him."
    In the meantime, Calicchio says she will keep coming back to the marshes. She refused to be photographed for the story because she fears reprisal from the Toscanos, she says. But she wants the world to know: She’s still looking.
    "Jordan told me that if anything ever happened to him, this is where he’d be," she says. "He said Gerald told him, ‘If I ever kill anybody, this is where I’ll dump the body.’ I laughed when Jordan told me. Now I wonder: Could I have done something to stop it?
    "Maybe someday they will realize the pain they’ve caused and want to make things right. He and his father have destroyed a lot of lives. I was only 19 when it happened, and my life will never be the same."
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