By Karen Zautyk
Three more men have been arrested in connection with murder of 16-year-old Alishia Colon, who was shot dead in her Kearny home last month, Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory announced Thursday.
The HCPO has also now offered a possible motive for the Jan. 17 killing: “retaliation over an ongoing dispute between alleged street gang members and members of the victim’s family.”
Colon, however, “was not believed to be part of that dispute at all,” and her death was but “the tragic consequence” of the feud.
Published reports have identified the street gang as the Latin Kings, but the prosecutor’s office would neither confirm nor deny that affiliation.
The suspects taken into custody last week were Kyeeth L. Smith, 21, of Willingboro; Lamar D. Farrar, 22, of East Orange; and Eric L. Shelton, 19, of Orange. They have each been charged with first-degree felony murder and with burglary.
Smith and Farrar were arrested by the prosecutor’s homicide detectives on Feb. 6 at or near their homes. Shelton was arrested Feb. 7 in Westchester, Pa., where he is student at Cheyney University.
Arrested earlier in connection with Colon’s killing was Cruz Martinez Jr., 41, of Hazleton, Pa., who has been charged with murder and unlawful possession of a firearm. He was taken into custody by Pennsylvania police on an unrelated open warrant two days after the slaying. He is awaiting extradition to New Jersey.
Colon’s body, with a gunshot wound to the head, was found by Kearny police in her second-floor bedroom at 253 Belgrove Drive at about 6:20 p.m. Jan. 17, several hours after some of the girl’s relatives were reportedly involved in a brawl near 250 Belgrove.
Law enforcement sources said the victim had no involvement in that fight, calling her “a complete innocent” in the whole affair. At the time of her murder, she is believed to have been home alone, babysitting a younger brother.
There was one arrest in direct connection to the street brawl, that of Edwin Mendez Jr., 37, of Belleville, who was charged with unlawful possession of a weapon, a machete, authorities said. Mendez has not been named in the murder case.
Bail for Farrar and Shelton has been set at $2 million each, cash or bond. Smith was being held on $1 million, cash or bond.
Farrar and Smith were remanded to the Hudson County Jail in Kearny. Shelton was awaiting extradition proceedings in Pennsylvania.
Martinez is being held on $10 million bail — cash only.
Pennsylvania has until this Wednesday, Feb. 13 to decide whether to press the local charges against him (stealing an 80-inch TV from a Walmart), dismiss them or allow him to be extradited to New Jersey on the murder rap.
Gregory credited the Kearny Police Department under the leadership of Chief John Dowie, the East Orange Police Department under Chief William C. Robinson, and the Orange Police Department under Hakim Sims for assistance in the Colon case.
The prosecutor’s homicide detectives, along with the Kearny P.D., are actively continuing the murder investigation. Anyone with information regarding it is asked to contact the HCPO Homicide Unit at (201) 915-1345 or hcpotips@ hcpo.org.
All communications will be kept confidential, Gregory said.