6 slay suspects in custody, Newark seeks answers
Authorities search for motive behind killings of students
NEWARK -- Now that six suspects are in custody for the execution-style slaying of three college students, residents hope to learn more about the motive behind the crime that has outraged the city.
"I want to know what happened and why it happened. But we may never get those answers," said Cathy Rainey, a close friend of the mother of one of the victims.
While city officials released few new details during a news conference yesterday, Mayor Cory A. Booker looked to assure residents that those responsible for the killings have been apprehended.
Booker said the arrest of a sixth man Sunday completed the search for suspects sought in the killings, and the focus will now turn to their prosecution as the community begins to heal.
"The killers are off the street," Booker said. "The city of Newark is now breathing a sigh of relief."
Not everyone was so sure the healing would come quickly.
"It's going to take time," said Renee Tucker, who lost her son, Terrance Aeriel, 18, in the attack. Tucker's 19-year-old daughter, Natasha Aeriel, survived a gunshot to the head and has worked with police to help identify the suspects.
Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow said authorities were still trying to understand the motivation for the killings.
The sixth suspect, 18-year-old Melvin Jovel, was arrested a day after authorities took two others into custody in the Washington, D.C., area. He is from Honduras, but his immigration status is unknown, authorities said.
Like the others, Jovel was charged with murder in the Aug. 4 shootings of Aeriel, Dashon Harvey, 20, and Iofemi Hightower, 20.
Hightower's mother, Shalga, has said the arrests gave her peace. "My child can rest now," she said.
Jovel was arrested without incident at the home of a relative by officers from the Newark police department, Essex County prosecutor's office, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, authorities said.
Jovel's bail was set at $2 million. His arraignment was set for today. Jovel's arrest occurred about 24 hours after federal authorities arrested Rodolfo Godinez, a 24-year-old Nicaraguan immigrant, and his 16-year-old half brother, Alexander Alfaro.
Godinez was arrested in an Oxon Hill, Md., rooming house, and Alfaro was arrested shortly after in Woodbridge, Va. Authorities said leads that were developed from those arrests helped them find Jovel. Godinez told a Maryland judge yesterday that he would fight extradition to New Jersey.
Three other suspects -- 28-year-old Jose Carranza, an illegal immigrant from Peru, and two juveniles -- were already in custody and charged with three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, in addition to other counts.