N.j. Man Gets Life In Killing Of Girl, 7 Timothy D. Macfarland Killed Stephanie Monn And Dumped Her Body In A Creek. He Was The Monn Family's Neighbor.

Posted: February 15, 1996

WOODBURY — A year to the day after Timothy David MacFarland confessed to killing his 7-year-old Westville neighbor, he was sentenced to life in prison yesterday.

Bittersweet sentiment coursed through the crowded but silent courtroom as Stephanie Monn's mother, Nancy, stared down MacFarland, 24, and read a three-page statement.

``During the last year, my husband and I have attended hearings and sat quietly while the defendant's rights were upheld, and justice worked its course. He pleaded guilty, and now we have rights, too,'' she said, her voice trembling as she read from the handwritten statement. ``The impact of the crime was complete devastation. Stephanie's death was the end of our world.''

Her 7-year-old daughter's body was found in Big Timber Creek in Westville in October 1993, stuffed in a duffel bag and weighted down by cinder blocks, four days after the child was reported missing. Stephanie also had been sexually assaulted.

It wasn't until last Valentine's Day that MacFarland, urged by his estranged wife, admitted to the crime.

``I would like to know: Why? What on earth possessed you to do what you did?'' Monn asked, tears flowing. ``. . . You bullied my little girl into something she knew was wrong. When she threatened to tell, you knew you'd be punished, and you were afraid, so you killed her. Did you try to revive her? Did you try to get her help? Did you try to undo what you'd done? No!''

With her friends and family on one side of the courtroom and the MacFarland family on the other, Monn, who now lives in Salem County, expressed all that she had kept private: her family's anger, their grief, their loss.

``Our little girl went out to play and she never came home. She never will come home. She is dead.''

Looking straight at the victim's family, MacFarland repeated his remorse in a statement to the court. ``If I could give my life to bring her back,'' he said, ``I would.''

MacFarland stood stoically, dressed in a drab-green prison uniform, as Gloucester County Superior Court Judge Joseph F. Lisa sentenced him to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 30 years. In order to avoid the death penalty, he pleaded guilty to kidnapping and murder charges in December.

As part of the plea agreement, sexual-assault charges were dismissed, which means MacFarland will avoid any Megan's Law penalties if he is released.

Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor Keith Johnson said MacFarland preferred the plea bargain to recounting the sexual assault in front of his family and friends.

Had MacFarland pleaded guilty to sexual assault, Johnson said, he might have been required to serve his time at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel, which houses sex offenders.

``The state was not willing to risk having him do his sentence in a hospital setting, as opposed to state prison,'' Johnson said.

MacFarland came forward last Feb. 14, first accusing Stephanie's father, Keith, of the murder, then confessing his own guilt. He said he confessed in the hopes that he could save his marriage.

During two taped interviews with police, MacFarland, who lived down the street from the Monns, admitted to sexually assaulting the girl at his home while his wife and their two children were out. When the girl threatened to tell her father, MacFarland said, he put his hand over her mouth to quiet her and she stopped breathing. Her death was attributed to asphyxiation.

MacFarland later stuffed the girl's body into a brown duffel bag and used a canoe to dump it in a nearby creek.

``It's a very sad event for both families. It's now concluded,'' said defense attorney Lee J. Hughes. ``The events of last year devastated both families.''

As MacFarland was led away by sheriff's officers, his mother, surrounded by family and friends, uttered her family's lone vocal sentiment: ``Love you, son.''

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