Friday, August 8, 2014
Happy birthday Timmy...........
"Following a routine, cold case review of the evidence and facts surrounding the disappearance and murder of Timothy Wiltsey, a new investigation was conducted and the matter was presented to the grand jury," stated Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C Carey.
When Andrew C Carey took office last year he opened a new investigation into the case of Timothy Wiltsey. The case began on May 25 1991, when his mother Michelle Lodzinski, 23, had reported to police that her 5 year old son had disappeared at a carnival. She stated that she had turned her back on him at 7:30 pm to buy a drink at the John F Kennedy Memorial Park in Sayreville NJ and when she turned back around, he had vanished. The carnival was closed and the area was searched until 2 am with no luck.
The search began again the next day at 5:30 am with searches of surrounding neighborhoods, two ponds, a helicopter and police driving throughout the whole park. They called off the search there at about noon when they were satisfied that Timmy was not anywhere within the park.
On May 27, thousands of volunteers were handing out leaflets with Timmy's information and police were following up on the numerous tips they had received about children that may have fit his description. They had also eliminated George Wiltsey, Timmy's father, as a suspect. He had not seen his son since he was a baby and he had been home in Iowa when Timmy had disappeared.
By the end of May, police had begun sending out flyers nationwide about Timmy and America's Most Wanted aired a segment about his disappearance. The police had also begun to hint that they had found inconsistencies in Michelle's story. The largest stumbling block for them was the fact that they could not find anyone else who had seen the boy at the carnival and no one came forward to verify Michelle's story of taking him there. Michelle had moved out of her home in the beginning of June because she wanted to escape the media but she vowed to never give up looking for her son.
It was not until five months later that Dan O'Malley found a sneaker that would eventually lead to the discovery of Timmy's remains. O'Malley and a friend were at the Raritan Center for an when they decided to walk out into the surrounding area. While walking towards the wetlands off Olympic Dr, he spotted a small Ninja Turtle sneaker and knew that it fit the description of what Timmy had last been wearing.
O'Malley felt that it was very important and placed the sneaker in a plastic bag and contacted a state police hotline. He was not received well so he followed that up with a call to the local police. They did not contact him back and he felt that maybe they were just swamped with work. It may have also been that Michelle had denied that it was her son's sneaker when she was shown it and that the police had already searched the Raritan area before.. The FBI did examine the sneaker and could not positively state that he had worn that sneaker. After months of waiting, O'Malley contacted a local newspaper and a reporter there traced the sneaker to a store not far from where Michelle had lived. In April 1992, Timmy's skull and other sneaker were found about 120 feet from where O'Malley had found the first sneaker and only about 2 miles across the river from where Michelle had claimed he had disappeared from.
In May 1992, a funeral mass is held for Timmy after his remains were finally identified and released. Police state that they had not found any clues as to how he had died or who had killed him. They do state that Michelle's story of his disappearance has changed several times. Among one of her versions of the disappearance, she states that a casual friend named "Ellen" had offered to watch Timmy while she went for a drink. She then stated that Ellen and an unknown male kidnapped Timmy at knifepoint and then fled. Michelle had also been criticized for not being very emotional as well as not paying much attention to films from the carnival when police were trying to find him in the crowds.
In January 21 1994, Michelle's family reports her missing after her car was found running outside her brother's apartment with a door still open. She was found the next day in Detroit MI telling the tale that she had been kidnapped by two men who claimed they were with the FBI. Police state that they believe that she ran because she was about to be served with a subpoena in relation to a case involving officer Robert Javick. He had been using the police computers to run background checks on license plates of cars Michelle claimed had been following her. The case against Javick was dropped and Michelle admitted to taking a bus to Detroit when she fled.
On May 10 1995, she was sentenced to three years probation and modified house arrest for faking her kidnapping. She was once again in trouble with the law on Feb 6 1998, when she was sentenced to another three years probation for stealing a laptop. The now pregnant Michelle had stolen a $3,000 Dell laptop from the heating and air conditioning company where she was working as a receptionist. She gave the laptop to her old friend Javick as a Christmas gift. She only lasted until March of that year before she was ordered to spend 24 hours in jail followed by four months of house arrest for violating her probation. At some point after this, Michelle moved to Florida to live with her sister..
Lodzinski was living in Apple Valley MN in 2001 and engaged to Harold Ostranger, a man she met there on an earlier visit with family. They were married in June 2001 and that was her first marriage, though it has been stated that he was not the father of either of her boys. She had stated that she was excited to be getting married because it meant that the house that Harold had purchased would be hers and Harold would follow her anywhere she chose to move in the future. The marriage did not last and she moved to Florida and purchased the home she has now in 2003 She had met Timmy's father in much the same way when she was visiting family in Iowa. She had moved to Iowa with Timmy after George had followed her to NJ and she got pregnant but did not like the isolation there and moved back to New Jersey with him, leaving George in Iowa.
Police knew by 2001 that Michelle was still their only suspect in Timmy's murder. She had worked several jobs while in New Jersey, most importantly, she had worked at a business in the Rariton Industrial complex, that was very close to where Timmy's remains were eventually found. She had failed two polygraph exams miserably and she had given at least three different versions of what had happened on the day Timmy went missing.
She initially told police that she had taken Timmy to Holmdale Park earlier in the day and left about 6 pm to go to the carnival. Park rangers stated that the lot that she had claimed to have parked in that day was closed to parking. She went on to tell them that she had gone for a soda and he was gone when she came back. Even though she had said that Timmy rode a few rides, no one could remember seeing him. One woman stated that she remembered Michelle in line for a drink but had not seen Timmy.
Ten days after his disappearance, Michelle was interviewed again and after some serious prodding by investigators, she dropped a bombshell about the disappearance. She told them that Timmy had been taken by two men, one was armed with a knife and they told her not to tell anyone or they would hurt the boy. After that, she got very angry and stormed out. She did return later that day with her sister and told police that she had made that story up.
By the next day........ there was yet another version of the story for police to investigate. In this version, Ellen a go-go dancer who used to cash checks at a bank Michelle had worked at, was in line with a child and two other men. Michelle stated that she wanted to go for a drink and Ellen offered to watch Timmy so that he wouldn't lose his place in line. One of the men pulled a knife and threatened to harm Timmy if she screamed and then they walked off with him. She never mentioned to the police at the carnival that he had been taken by anyone. Michelle was also not very helpful during questioning by the police. She would get very angry and storm out of the room, stop talking or look them in the eye and dare them to charge her.
On Aug 6 2014, on what would have been Timmy's 28th birthday, Michelle was arrested for his murder. She was pulled over at the corner of US 1 and Sunset Blvd in Jenson FL and taken into custody. Michelle had been raising her two boys, ages 16 and 12 years old, as a single mother living in Port St Lucie Fl. Police had been keeping track of her for some time since they had reopened the investigation of Timmy's death. She had been working as a paralegal at Gary, Williams, Parenti, Watson & Gary P.L., a firm that handles civil litigation such as medical malpractice, wrongful deaths and personal injuries. Fellow employees have expressed shock following the arrest and describe Michelle as a doting mother of her two boys.
She was in court on Thursday and ordered held on a $2 million dollar bond and she is awaiting extradition to New Jersey to face the murder charge there. There were various other charges she could have faced in Timmy's death but the statue of limitations has run out for everything except the murder charge. Her two sons are said to be staying with her brother in law who also lives nearby.
The police have stated that they were aided by the fact that so many people had never forgotten Timmy and the circumstances of his disappearance. Dan O'Malley, who had pushed to have the sneaker he found linked to Timmy has never forgotten. Theresa and Tara Packard shared a duplex with Michelle and Timmy and have never forgotten either.
Theresa described Michelle as a hard working mother who cared for her son, sent him to Catholic school and shared meals and playtime with her daughter Tara. She also remembered Michelle calling her that evening to ask if Timmy had wandered back to their home since they were searching for him at the carnival. While she had been a supporter of Michelle in the beginning, she slowly began to see the holes in her stories and demeanor. She as well as Dan had just happened to put on the news Wednesday evening .......... and heard that Michelle had been arrested finally. After all these years, there may finally be closure in the two decade old case of Timothy Wiltsey's murder.
Michelle has seemed to spend a lot of time moving across the US to escape her past. Her past has caught up to her it seems, just as the past caught up to Casey Anthony. I can understand being very upset and inaccurate immediately after something as traumatic as a child disappearing. I am very glad that the police in NJ did not start an APB for the mysterious "Ellen" since that probably would have ended up much like the massive hunt for Anthony's mysterious kidnapping nanny. My only hope is that Timothy has a much better outcome in the end and others involved in this case for the past two decades can finally find closure to it.
Related post on this blog:
Update Sept 23 2014:
In July 2014, a Middlesex County NJ grand jury handed down a one count indictment against Lodzinski and she was arrested on Aug 7 2014. The indictment states that she "did purposely or knowingly" kill Timmy or that she had "purposely or knowingly inflict serious bodily injury" which resulted in his death. On Sept 12 2014, Lodzinski was transported to the West Palm Beach International Airport where U S Marshals transferred custody of her to New Jersey detectives. She would finally be on her way north to face the charges after waiving extradition.
Lodzinski made her first court appearance on Sept 16 2014 and she pleaded not guilty to the charge of killing her son Timmy decades before. Her attorney, Gerald Krovatin, has stated that Lodzinski maintains her innocence as well as their belief that the state prosecutors do not have any proof to back their claim or explanation for waiting 23 years to charge her. The judge ruled that her $2 million dollar bond would continue to stand.
It has taken a very long time for Lodzinski to be charged with her son's death. Even before his body was found in a marshy area almost a year after he disappeared, Lodzinski's stories of the incident kept changing. Since that time, there have been five county prosecutors and it was Andrew Carey, the current one who brought the evidence to the grand jury.
The prosecutors have stated that they have several key pieces of evidence that they had discovered had never been shown to witnesses for identification. It had been assumed that they had been shown to more than just Lodzinski years ago but when the cold case was reopened, research showed that only Lodzinski had denied that the items belonged to Timmy. They believe they have a much more solid case against her than they ever had decades ago. Time will tell if they are correct.