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Central Jersey News from the Times of Trenton

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    The biggest games on the schedule for the week of April 23.


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    Hundreds of cheerleaders compete for titles at N.J. competition.

    Approximately 30 cheer squads competed in the Beast of the East cheerleading championships in Wildwood Sunday.

    Hundreds of cheerleaders -- mostly from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, -- competed in recreation, prep, all-star and dance divisions on a 54- by 42-foot spring floor.

    The event, hosted by Spirit Brands, was one of two cheerleading competitions held at the Wildwoods Convention Center over the weekend.

    Spirit Brands is hosting a Spring Festival competition at the Collins Arena in Lincroft on Sunday, April 29, and the North American Spirit Tournament in Atlantic City on Saturday, May 5, and Sunday, May 6.

    The convention center is home to hundreds of events throughout the year, including the "War at the Shore" youth wrestling championships, USAIGC New Jersey Regional Gymnastics Championships, the Wildwood Polar Bear Plunge, and Wildwoods International Kite Festival, among others.

    For more information on events in Wildwood, visit www.wildwoodsnj.com.

    Lori M. Nichols may be reached at lnichols@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @photoglori. Find NJ.com on Facebook. Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips.


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    The arrest confirms the worst fears of Cody MacPherson's family, who never stopped searching for him

    Exactly seven months after Cody MacPherson disappeared in the middle of the night, authorities announced Monday they've charged an acquaintance with killing the 20-year-old Pemberton resident, confirming the MacPherson family's worst fears and suspicions.

    Alan McGinnis, of Pemberton, stabbed MacPherson to death, dumped his body in Ocean County and went back to the Pemberton home where the stabbing occurred to clean up the blood, according to a joint statement released Monday by prosecutors from Ocean and Burlington counties and the New Jersey State Police.

    mcginnis.jpgAlan J. McGinnis
     

    Authorities said MacPherson was the body state forest firefighters found in the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson Township last month.

    McGinnis, 27, is being held in jail on charges including murder, kidnapping, and improper disposal of human remains, authorities said.

    MacPherson's family, who continued to search for him until recently, suspected McGinnis may have been involved with MacPherson's disappearance all along, after learning that there had been in an altercation the night he went missing.

    According to MacPherson's family, he was at the home of a woman with which he was romantically involved on the evening of Sept. 23, 2017.

    Ashley King, the fiance of MacPherson's brother, told NJ Advance Media at the time that they had learned from witnesses that McGinnis was at the house and there was some kind of altercation involving MacPherson, McGinnis and another man.

    People at the house told them MacPherson walked home alone around 4 a.m., King said.

    But statements made by authorities Monday seems to contradict that narrative.

    Authorities said McGinnis stabbed MacPherson multiple times at a home on Pardee Boulevard in Pemberton Township early in the morning on Sept. 24. A search of property records show the home in question belongs to the parents of the woman MacPherson's family said he had been seeing.

    No news frustrates family of young father, missing since September

    "McGinnis then used a vehicle available at the residence to transport the victim in the trunk to the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area on South Stump Tavern Road in Jackson," authorities said in their statement. He hid the body with branches and leaves, they said. "McGinnis later traveled back to Pemberton where the scene was cleaned of visible blood and other evidence of the murder."

    In court documents, investigators said that McGinnis then went back to the woods and burned the surveillance system from the home, the alleged murder weapon, MacPherson's cell phone and clothes, and his own clothes.

    MacPherson's family filed a missing persons report Sept. 24, and spent months searching for him or any evidence, with the help of friends and even total strangers who volunteered.

    On March 19, six months after his disappearance, State Police got a call from a warden with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service at Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. He told police he was conducting a controlled burn when he found human remains, including a skull, under some logs, according to the statement.

    State Police homicide unit detectives believed the remains were likely to be MacPherson's. He was positively identified using DNA on Tuesday, authorities said.

    Police obtained search warrants for two homes in Pemberton and Jackson townships and they were executed early Saturday, authorities said. McGinnis was arrested that day.

    Joel Bewley, spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office, said he could not comment on whether anyone else could face charges in connection with MacPherson's killing.

    In September, King described MacPherson as a goof and a people person who was always doing something with his friends. She said he was a good kid and was thinking of joining the military, but his family worried he may have been "caught up in the wrong crowd."

    On Monday morning, a Facebook group that had been devoted to the search efforts for MacPherson featured instead messages of grief and condolences for the family.

    MacPherson, who previously lived in Portage, Indiana, with his mother, leaves behind a young daughter.

    "Justice will be serve and you can rest in peace," one person wrote.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips


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    The outfielder has eight hits so far in 2018: one double, one triple, and six home runs. He has yet to record a single.

    Stephen Tarpley struggled to find the plate in his first appearance of the season for the Thunder, way back on the second night of the season.

    But like any good reliever, Tarpley had to shake off his bad outing, and basically wipe it from his memory. 

    That is the life of a reliever: selective amnesia.

    "It was really important (to shake it off)," Tarpley said. "A game like that, my first outing, it was a lot colder than what I am used to. So I was kind of getting my feet wet.

    "I wasn't hitting the strike zone like I wanted to, and you have to bounce back and really minimize those walks. Those are going to be detrimental to the team, or to the chance of the team winning."

    Since that outing, Tarpley has gotten better with each game he has entered, and he got the win Sunday in the final game of the series with Portland. He pitched three innings in relief of starter Alexander Vargas, who was on a pitch count and left after 4.1 innings. Tarpley went 2.2 innings, and allowed just one run while striking out four, in the 5-1 victory.

    He has become one of the long relievers for Trenton, someone who can come in and eat up innings, get outs, and keep his team in the game. He played that role well again Sunday.

    "I can eat up a few innings here and there," Tarpley said. "It has been a while since I last pitched, so I kind of thought I would be the next guy up. You have to always be ready in the bullpen.

    "You have to be ready to go, and to be able to bounce back from bad outings. That one outing, I had to bounce back, and I knew I would get in eventually."

    Wenger steps down at Arsenal; Man. United makes 20th F.A. Cup Final

    While it has not been the best of starts for Bruce Caldwell, who the Yankees signed after the Cardinals released this March, he hopes a solo blast late in the game Sunday will get him moving in the right direction.

    The 26-year-old had split his last two seasons between Double and Triple A, and has settled into second base for the Thunder. It was his first home run for Trenton, and while he hit 14 last year, he is just trying to swing the bat well.

    "I am just out there trying to put a good swing on the ball, and help the team win," Caldwell said. "I think the weather is heating up, and we will as well. It is definitely good playing in better weather, and our team is definitely coming together. 

    "The weather has been a killer, but we are trying to look past that. Other than that, we are looking pretty good right now."

    NOTES: 

    This is the first of two straight home series with the Senators. The teams will play a three-game set, then the Thunder will hit the road for series with New Hampshire and Portland.

    When Trenton returns to Arm & Hammer Park Thursday night, May 3, the Senators will be back in town as well for a four-games series. 

    Jhalen Jackson's interesting statistical start to the season continued over the weekend. The outfielder has eight hits so far in 2018: one double, one triple, and six home runs. He has yet to record a single.

    Contact Sean Miller at seanmillertrentontimes@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheProdigalSean


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    There's plenty of good softball games and events on this week's schedule.


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    An accident on April 23, 2018, left two people dead after their SUV was struck by a dump truck.

    Two people died Monday after their SUV was struck by a dump truck in Plumsted Township.

    Plumsted Township Police Officer Ryan Nani said a Lexus SUV made a left turn onto Route 539 around 10:50 a.m. and was hit by a dump truck traveling northbound.

    Nani said the names of both the driver and the passenger of the SUV are not being released as police continue to try to contact their next of kin.

    The driver of the dump truck was taken to Lourdes Emergency Department at Deborah in Pemberton Township with non-life threatening injuries. He is not facing any criminal charges, Nani said.

    The highway was closed between Woodruff and Colliers Mills roads for several hours while police cleared the scene.

    The accident is under investigation by the Plumsted police and the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office.

    Chris Sheldon may be reached at csheldon@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrisrsheldon Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    In a decision that has wide-reaching ramifications throughout the state, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that tax money cannot be used to support houses of worship, even for the purpose of historic preservation.

    The churches are lovely, no question about it.

    St. Peter's Episcopal Church on South Street in Morristown boasts a 110-year-old Gothic tower and gracefully curved windows, while neighboring Church of the Redeemer has earned a place on both the state and national historic registers.

    They are beautiful, stately and rich with tradition. But what they are not, as the state Supreme Court recently ruled, is eligible to use taxpayers' money to keep them in a state of repair.

    In a decision that has wide-reaching ramifications throughout the state, the court ruled that community coffers cannot be used to support houses of worship, even for the purpose of historic preservation.

    Efforts to establish what Thomas Jefferson referred to as "a wall of separation between church and state" in 1802 have been a foundation of American life since the nation was born.

    The case just ruled on by the state's highest court affected a decision by Morris County to make available $4.6 million from its Preservation Trust Fund to several churches for historic preservation - more than 40 percent of the total funding handed out between 2012 and 2015, the period in question.

    Supreme Court: Taxpayer funds can't be used to restore churches

    The Church of the Redeemer came away with $566,290 of that money, while St. Peter's received $428,134. Other hefty grants went to churches in Mendham and New Vernon, among other recipients.

    But while county officials stressed the historic value of these venues as a reason for their largesse, the justices said ... wait a minute, not so fast.

    Rather, the jurists decided - unanimously - that providing taxpayers' funds in these situations is a violation of the state Constitution.

    Specifically, they said, such action violates the Religious Aid Clause, which dates from the year of the nation's founding and assures that "no person shall ... be obliged to pay ... taxes ... for building or repairing any church or churches, place or places of worship, for the maintenance of any minister or ministry."

    But the justices also opted not to demand that the churches repay the money they've already received, understanding that the funds may have already been spent "in good faith."

    The national nonprofit organization Freedom From Religion Foundation filed the original suit 2015.

    Morris County officials say they have not yet decided whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is certainly their right. But we hope they spare the taxpayers the time and expense of taking the matter to a higher authority.

    Attendance at the nation's churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship remains a defining societal norm. But taxpayers should have no obligation to pay for the upkeep or the preservation of those facilities, no matter how old, or how architecturally valuable, they may be.

    Bookmark NJ.com/Opinion. Follow on Twitter @NJ_Opinion and find NJ.com Opinion on Facebook.

     

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    Fewer New Jersey hospitlals earned an A for safety in the latest Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades report. Check out how your local hospital fared.


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    Who's the best of the best?


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    South Brunswick police advised drivers to use Route 130 as they investigated Tuesday's early morning accident near Henderson Road

    Police closed the northbound lanes of Route 1 in South Brunswick for several hours early Tuesday after a pedestrian was struck by two tractor trailers.

    The fatal accident occurred about 4:45 a.m. in the northbound lanes just past Henderson Road.

    The pedestrian had apparently been in a travel lane when he was hit, police said. He died about 5:06 a.m., police said.

    The highway between Henderson Road and Blackhorse Lane was closed as South Brunswick police investigated.

    Motorists were advised to use Route 130 as a detour during the morning commute, said Deputy Police Chief James Ryan.

    "The morning rush hour has been gridlock with up to a three-mile backup on Route 1," Ryan said in an email.

    The highway was expected to reopen about 9:45 a.m.

    Authorities were working to identify the victim, Ryan said.

    Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Here is a look at 25 players having a big impact at the Division I level for college softball.


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    NJ.com breaks down the 28 high school events for the 2018 Penn Relays.


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    See the April 24th edition of the girls lacrosse Top 20.


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    The top hitters and pitchers around the state for April 16-22.


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    The dump truck carrying 20 tons of sand was traveling north on Route 539 when it struck an SUV

    Authorities have identified two women killed in a crash with a dump truck filled with 20 tons of sand Monday morning in Plumsted.

    Driver Nancy Harris, 79, of Newtown, Pennsylvania, and her passenger, Helen Conover, 84, of Hamilton in Mercer County, were pronounced dead at the scene following the 10:50 a.m. crash, the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

    Pedestrian struck and killed by 2 tractor trailers on Route 1

    The driver of the truck, a 58-year-old Little Egg Harbor man, was treated at an area hospital for minor back pain, officials said. 

    The dump truck was traveling north on Route 539 when it struck an SUV that turned into its path as it made a left from Woodruff Road onto 539, authorities said. 

    Police arrived to find the dump truck overturned in a field along the side the road and the driver's side of the SUV heavily damaged.

    The crash closed Route 539 for about four hours while police investigated.

    Jeff Goldman may be reached at jeff_goldman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JeffSGoldman. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Two of the infants were found in Trenton and another in Highland Park. One of the babies survived after being rushed to a hospital

    Police found a newborn baby girl dead inside a vacant building on South Broad Street in Trenton Monday evening, authorities said.

    The infant appeared to be a day or two old, police said. She is the third newborn abandoned in New Jersey this month. Two of the infants were found in Trenton. The baby boy found earlier this month in the city survived. 

    Police were called Monday to the vacant building on the 800 block of South Broad,, a busy commercial and residential area less than 2 miles from the Statehouse for a report of an unresponsive newborn, Trenton police spokesman Detective Lt. Darren Zappley said.

    Detectives are looking for the mother and do have some leads, Zappley said. The Middlesex County medical examiner's office took the baby for an autopsy.

    New Jersey has a Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, which allows parents, or someone acting on their behalf, to surrender a child less than 30 days old at hospital emergency rooms, police stations, fire houses and rescue squads - with no questions asked.

    Zappley said, unfortunately, some pregnant mothers are still unaware of the program.

    Since 2000, 64 babies have been surrendered through the Safe Haven program, a state spokesman said recently.

    Trenton police are also continuing to look for the mother of an infant boy found in a duffel bag on the porch of a home on Beechwood Avenue in Trenton's West Ward on April 15.

    The newborn boy was rushed to a local hospital and police later said he was in good condition. That baby was later placed with state child protective authorities.

    In Highland Park the next day, police found a newborn baby boy outside a Lincoln Avenue home. Emergency crews rushed the infant to a hospital, where the boy died.

    Middlesex County authorities have since arrested the 14-year-old mother on murder-related juvenile charges and her 35-year-old mother on charges she endangered the welfare of her daughter by not seeking medical care for the teen, and tampering with evidence in the case.

    In addition to the Safe Haven website, parents or others can call the New Jersey Safe Haven hotline -- 1-877-839-2339 - to find directions to the nearest surrender location. No name or other identifying information must be provided when dropping off an infant.

    Kevin Shea may be reached at kshea@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@kevintshea. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Check out the second set of conference players of the week.


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    When the man told a supervisor he needed to get his inhaler from home - 3 miles from work - he was shown the door

    A man with asthma who suffered shortness of breath while working on an assembly line outside of Trenton will receive $45,000 after the company fired him when he said he wanted to go home and get his inhaler.

    He worked at the Trane plant in Hamilton for four months until February 2016, at $12 an hour, the state Office of the Attorney General said Tuesday. The plant on East State Street which manufactures heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment.

    asthma-938695_1920.jpgFile photo (Pixabay) 

    When the employee, identified only as J.D., became short of breath on the job, a supervisor criticized him for slowing his pace. When he told the supervisor that he needed to leave and grab his inhaler from home three miles from the plant, he was told to gather his belongings and escorted him to the exit.

    The next week, he showed up for work and found his employee badge had been deactivated, indicating he'd been fired.

    The company had contended that the man was terminated for walking off the job, and was not discriminated against for his asthma. The company's human resources department claimed to be unaware of the man's condition.

    The OAG's Division on Civil Rights investigated on his behalf snd found that J.D.'s asthma and need for an inhaler were documented in a pre-employment physical, and a company nurse was aware of his condition as well. 

    The payment, about two years' salary at the man's wage, is intended to compensate him for lost wages and damages. 

    The company will also be required to revise its policy on disability discrimination to "make clear that workers with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations, provide specific instruction on how employees can pursue a request for accommodation, and provide detailed information on how employees can file a civil rights complaint with the State."

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

    Have a tip? Tell us. nj.com/tips 


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    Here is a look at 25 players having a big impact at the Division I level for college baseball this week.


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    Police say he was unable to pawn the stolen goods

    The burglar who broke into St. Hedwig's church this month and stole a golden chalice belonging to a priest is the man Trenton police say they arrested Monday morning after he busted into another city church.

    Alexander Correa.jpgAlexander Correa

    Police caught Alexander Correa, 40, shortly after he tripped an alarm at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, the Diocese of Trenton's "mother" cathedral on North Warren Street just north of downtown. 

    Correa is charged with multiple crimes for a total of four burglaries at the cathedral and St. Hedwig's in North Trenton, for which he later confessed, Trenton Police spokesman Lt. Darren Zappley said Tuesday.

    Zappley said Correa entered the cathedral by breaking a side basement window, which set off an alarm while he was in a washroom. Startled, he ran and responding patrol officers nabbed him at Hanover and Broad streets.

    He confessed to four break-ins, two at each church this month.

    One was the April 13 crime at St. Hedwig's, in which he pocketed a gold chalice that Fr. Jacek Labinski told NJ Advance Media recently was one of his most cherished items, a gift he received in the 1980s when he was ordained a priest and an item he used almost every day when celebrating Mass.

    He'd hoped it would be recovered, Labinski said. The priest was unavailable for comment Tuesday.

    During his confession Correa also told police he was keeping the stolen goods in an abandoned house in East Trenton, and police went there and found it, as well as a goblet and bowl stolen during burglaries, Zappley said.

    They were stashed in a burgundy felt bag, in a lower kitchen cabinet and Correa admitted to trying to sell the stolen items at a local pawn shop, but the shop refused to take them, Zappley said.

    Olivia Rizzo may be reached at orizzo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @LivRizz. Find NJ.com on Facebook 

     

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