Camden's July homicide toll makes it the deadliest month since 1949

Posted: August 01, 2012

July's homicide toll in Camden reached 13 over the weekend, authorities said Monday, making this month the deadliest in the city in more than six decades.

Not since September 1949, when paranoid schizophrenic Howard Unruh went on a shooting spree that claimed 13 lives, has a month been as bloody.

As of Sunday night, there had been 39 homicides in Camden this year, compared with 26 during the same period in 2011, according to figures from the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. Most of this year's homicides are believed to have been drug-related, authorities say.

If the current pace continues, the city will not only exceed last year's total of 49 homicides, it also could surpass the record of 58 homicides set in 1995, figures show.

Investigators are working overtime just to respond to cases, Camden County Prosecutor Warren Faulk said Monday.

"These guys are going from one to the next and not having time to do the follow-up investigation, the second and the third interviews. That is what's so frustrating," Faulk said.

"They don't have the time to put in the significant hours it takes to really talk somebody into giving you information," he said.

In the most recent homicides, Camden residents Jermaine Morris, 30, and John L. Samuels, 38, were shot around 10:15 p.m. Sunday on the 1100 block of Mechanic Street, the prosecutor's office and police said.

Morris, who was wounded in the back, died at 10:36 p.m. at Cooper University Hospital. Samuels, who was struck in the chest, died about four minutes later.

The month's homicides included three in about 30 hours on July 10 and 11 that involved Bloods gang members fighting over drug turf in the area of Sixth and Royden Streets, authorities said.

The first claimed the life of Robert Carstarphen, 27, of Camden, who was in a shootout involving six people in an alley near Sixth and Roberts Streets in the Lanning Square section at about 2 p.m. on July 10.

About 24 hours later, city resident Jovan Aponte, 19, was shot by two masked men on the 800 block of Walnut Street in Bergen Square. Aponte was an associate of Carstarphen's and took part in the earlier altercation, police said. He is not believed to have shot Carstarphen.

There have not been any arrests in the Morris, Samuels, Carstarphen, or Aponte cases, according to authorities.

Around 7 p.m. on July 11, Reynaldo Morales, 16, was killed when Jalil Anderson and Turquoise Perez allegedly opened fire on the van he was driving. The vehicle had been stopped at a traffic light at Haddon and Kaighns Avenues, authorities said. Authorities believe that Morales' two passengers may have been the intended targets.

Witnesses told authorities that Perez and Anderson both fired at the van, officials said. Anderson was arraigned on a murder charge Monday in Superior Court in Camden County and held on $1.5 million bail. Perez remains at large.

Anderson, 22, has an "extensive juvenile history," and also has a February 2010 conviction as an adult for conspiracy to distribute drugs, Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah told Judge Thomas A. Brown Jr.

Anderson had charges of armed robbery and burglary and various weapons offenses dismissed last week in an unrelated case dating from August 2010, Shah said.

Lt. Frank Falco, commander of the homicide unit in the prosecutor's office, said his detectives are determined to crack down on the rising violence.

"They have to deal with the families, so they get to see the grief firsthand," he said.

Contact Darran Simon at 856-779-3829 or, or follow on Twitter @darransimon.

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