Willingboro Man Held In Slaying He Is Charged With Murdering A 20-year-old Woman Whose Body Was Found In An Ocean County Forest.

Posted: April 30, 1999

A Willingboro man was arrested early yesterday and charged with murdering a 20-year-old woman who had been reported missing this week.

Joseph T. Austin, 25, of the first block of Sheffield Drive, was arraigned in Ocean County Superior Court yesterday afternoon. Judge Peter J. Giovine set bail at $500,000.

The nude body of Heather Lee Armijo, of Belmar in Monmouth County, was discovered by two people about 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to Gregory J. Sakowicz, executive assistant prosecutor for Ocean County. Her body was lying on a dirt road in the Colliers Mills Wildlife Area in a pine forest off Route 571 in Jackson Township.

Investigators said the woman had been shot several times in the face. An autopsy was being performed yesterday by the Ocean County Medical Examiner's Office.

Authorities said Armijo, who worked for a fast-food restaurant in Belmar, was last seen getting into a black car near her home Monday afternoon with a man sporting a blond crewcut. Sakowicz said Austin has a crewcut.

She was reported missing shortly after that by family members.

Authorities said that they believed Austin knew Armijo, and that she might have dated him at least once.

Investigators from the state police, the Ocean County Prosecutor's and Sheriff's Offices, and the Jackson Township Police worked through the night and identified Armijo through the missing-persons report.

Ocean County Prosecutor E. David Millard praised the quick thinking of Samuel DePasquale, the Jackson Township's director of public safety, whose actions led to the arrest of Austin.

Authorities said about 45 minutes after Armijo's body was found, DePasquale spotted Austin driving a white Jeep Cherokee in the vicinity.

DePasquale engaged Austin in a brief conversation, and had him agree to accompany him to the Jackson Township police station. Austin was questioned and later charged.

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