KPD: Detectives arrest former juvenile on carjacking-related charges

On April 19 at 4:30 p.m., Dets. Kyle Plaugic and Frank West went to the Essex County Youth Detention Facility and booked an 18-year-old Newark girl for a December carjacking that took place on Essex Place in Kearny. The girl was 17 at the time of the offense, which is why her name is withheld. She has been charged with carjacking, conspiracy and aggravated assault.

The charges stem from a Dec. 12 incident in which a 38-year-old Chinese food delivery driver was lured to Essex Place to make a bogus food delivery. When the driver arrived, he was confronted by two people, one of whom produced a handgun and demanded his wallet. The suspects then beat the delivery driver, including with the butt of their gun, which lacerated his head and face. And then the suspects did not take the driver’s wallet, but instead stole his Honda CR-V. Detectives later tracked the stolen Honda to East Orange where it was found parked and abandoned.

The victim was treated at University Hospital and released.

Dets. Plaugic and West collaborated with detectives from Nutley and Clifton, who had experienced similar robberies. Their investigation identified this 18-year-old Newark girl as one of the robbery suspects. Further investigation identified Najim Wadud, 18, of East Orange, as the alleged co-conspirator in the carjacking. Wadud, who is currently incarcerated in Bergen County on another matter, was charged on April 25 with carjacking, conspiracy, employing a juvenile in commission of a crime, aggravated assault and weapon possession offenses.

On April 15 at 1:40 a.m., Officer Anthony Oliveira was observing traffic at Passaic Avenue and Afton Street, when a Jeep Grand Cherokee passed him without a front license plate and with windows tinted so darkly the officer could not see the Jeep’s occupants.

Upon pulling over the Jeep, Officer Oliveira found driver Victor A. Ajiboye, 25, of Newark, was wanted by the York County, Pennsylvania, Sheriff’s Office for failing to appear on charges of receiving stolen property, carrying an unlicensed firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia. Officer Oliveira arrested Ajiboye without incident, charging him as a fugitive from justice.

Ajiboye was held at the Hudson County jail pending extradition. He was also issued traffic summonses for safety glass requirement and improper display of license plates.

On April 20 at 9:46 p.m., Officer Anthony Oliveira was patrolling the BJs Wholesale Club parking lot and saw Jerry Lee Vandermark (a/k/a Frankie R. Crane), 43, of Trenton. Familiar with Crane, the officer was aware there were warrants issued for his arrest (Hudson County Superior Court for larceny; Kearny for possession of drug paraphernalia; Roxbury Township, bench warrant).

Assisted by Sgt. Sean Kelly and Officer Josh Lopez, the three took Vandermark under arrest and found that he was in possession of a woman’s Visa debit card without permission. Also, in Vandermark’s possession was drug paraphernalia: various vials containing residue, wire mesh, a cut straw, and a crack pipe. A later secondary search revealed that Vandermark had a small bag of what was reported to be imitation crack cocaine in the pants pocket of an undergarment.

Vandermark was charged with unlawful possession of a lost credit card, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of an imitation controlled dangerous substance. He was then held at the Hudson County jail.

On April 21 at 1:56 a.m., several officers responded to a call of a vehicle crash in the BJ’s Wholesale Club parking lot in which two young male occupants – one wearing a ski mask – fled the crash on foot. The vehicle they abandoned was a 2021 Kia Sportage with a damaged ignition later confirmed to have been stolen.

Officer Jose Castillo and Sgt. Sean Kelly found the fleeing suspects in the Vermella West apartment complex parking lot next to a 2023 Kia with a smashed window, a broken ignition and burglar’s tools (flathead screwdrivers and a utility knife) on the ground nearby. Upon Officer Castillo instructing the boys to stop, both ran, with the officers in foot pursuit.

Sgt. Dean Gasser encountered both boys near the Passaic Avenue Starbucks drive-thru and took a 15-year-old Lyndhurst boy into custody. The other suspect, a 15-year-old Newark boy, ran again. Upon searching the Lyndhurst boy, the sergeant recovered two switchblades, a fleece mask and a glove.

Officer Castillo and Sgt. Kelly gave chase after the Newark boy again, but he ran into the Passaic River. He eventually exited the river near Passaic and Johnston avenues where he was apprehended by Hudson County Sheriff’s Officer Larry Aiken.

Both boys were charged under juvenile delinquency with receiving stolen property, two counts of burglary, resisting arrest, obstructing the administration of law, possession of burglar’s tools and criminal mischief.

The Lyndhurst boy was issued traffic tickets for reckless driving, careless driving, driving without a license, leaving the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident.

Both boys were released to guardians.

On April 21 at 10:33 p.m., Officer Thomas Collins was approached by a bloodied 34-year-old woman while he was tending to a parking violation on Tappan Street. The officer later learned the woman had been punched in the head, torso and arms allegedly by her 61-year-old husband, who had then locked himself inside a bedroom in their nearby home.

Officer Collins and several backup officers entered the home and eventually talked the husband out of the bedroom. In the process, they found a large chef’s knife on top of a refrigerator that was covered in dried blood. The husband emerged from the bedroom with a hand laceration that appeared to have become infected. It was alleged the wife had cut the husband with the bloody knife during a fight on April 16, which had not been reported to police.

After receiving EMS treatment, officers arrested both parties. The husband was charged with simple assault and aggravated assault (domestic violence strangulation). The wife was charged with aggravated assault and weapon possession offenses. The couple was lodged separately in the county jail in South Kearny.

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Capt. Timothy Wagner | Kearny Police Department

Capt. Timothy Wagner is the Kearny Police Department's public-information officer and the commander of the department's Internal Affairs Unit. He contributes the KPD Blotter weekly and writes it completely.