Sought in fatal accident, she fled to Brazil, cops say

By Karen Zautyk 

Observer Correspondent 


A Harrison woman has been indicted on two counts of vehicular homicide in connection with an accident last year on the N.J. Turnpike, but don’t expect news of a trial anytime soon.

She is a fugitive.

Authorities said she fled to Brazil, where she is a citizen.

The wanted woman is identified as Rafaella Maranhao, 29, who until last spring had been residing in Harrison.

Last week, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced that an Essex grand jury had returned a three-count indictment against Maranhao, including the two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of assault by auto.

The indictment alleges that, during the early morning hours of May 11, 2014, Maranhao killed one man and fatally injured another while driving recklessly and under the influence of alcohol on the Turnpike.

According to the N.J. State Police, Maranhao, behind the wheel of a 2005 Nissan Maxima, was traveling north in the left center lane of the highway near Exit 14 in Newark when she apparently lost control of the vehicle.

Police said the car spun around, crossed two lanes of traffic, hit a guard rail, rebounded onto the highway and then overturned on the right shoulder.

Maranhao’s front-seat passenger, Peter Figueroa, 32, of Newark, was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 2 a.m.

Two other passengers were transported to University Hospital in Newark.

One of the victims, 35-year-old Prince Stoney of Elizabeth, died of his injuries on June 7. The second, identified by authorities only as Taleisha Charles, sustained injuries but survived.

According to Murray’s office, Maranhao fled the country not long after the fatal crash and has not been apprehended.

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