'Good Samaritan' woman slain in N.J. rampage

Cara Ellis (above) was shot while trying to help a neighbor.
Cara Ellis (above) was shot while trying to help a neighbor.
Posted: October 05, 2010

A bleary-eyed man stood in a driving rain yesterday afternoon outside the Little Egg Harbor Township municipal building, chain-smoking cigarettes while informing people via cell phone that he was now a young widower.

Authorities said Matthew Ellis' wife, Cara, came rushing to the aid of a man who was gunned down yesterday morning a few doors down from their home in the Tall Timbers condo development on Westchester Drive.

Up above, Craig Mueller was aiming his high-powered, military-style rifle out of a second-floor unit. According to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, Mueller, 45, had just shot and killed his brother and housemate, Bryan, 52, before firing at Ellis, 21, and later, himself.

"Her husband was on the phone with her when it happened," said Frank Bauer, a resident of the development. "She said, 'I have to go help him.' "

Matthew Ellis, wearing a rain-soaked sweatshirt, stood outside while dozens of reporters gathered for a news conference with authorities in the rural community north of Atlantic City. He left later with a friend and declined to comment.

A neighbor in the development said Mueller had recently been fired from his job at the electrical shop of nearby Viking Yachts.

"There was nothing peculiar about him," said a man who once worked with him at the high-end boat builder.

Authorities found Craig Mueller dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the second-floor of his home with an AR-15 rifle nearby. Ocean County Prosecutor Marlene Lynch Ford said he didn't appear to have any serious criminal history and no motive for the rampage had materialized as of yesterday afternoon.

"At this point it's just a mystery," Ford said. "We're as shocked at this as anyone else. It makes no sense."

Initial reports said that an elderly man, armed with an AK-47, had killed up to four people, and was loose in the surrounding woods, prompting a lockdown of nearby schools. Tall Timbers resident Christian Santana said he had never heard such rapid gunfire.

"It sounded like a video game," he said. "I heard like 25 shots."

Ford hailed Cara Ellis as a "Good Samaritan."

"We believe Cara was unfortunately caught in the crossfire, in the street . . . trying to help Bryan," Ford said.

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