Was local Warlock killed by one of his own?

Posted: March 13, 2013

A LIFE ON the road ended in the blood-soaked parking lot of the Last Chance Saloon in Camden County.

Authorities say Francis Panetta Jr., a member of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club, was stabbed in the leg outside the biker bar on the White Horse Pike in Chesilhurst just before 11 p.m. Friday.

The stabbing severed a major artery near his knee, authorities said, and Panetta, 44, was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. at a nearby hospital.

"Him and another guy got in a fight," said Manny Corti, the bar's owner. "There was just too much blood."

Corti's bar is popular with bikers, including members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, the largest "outlaw" club in the area. The Pagans and the smaller Warlocks, also dubbed an "outlaw" club by law enforcement, have had no public beefs in years, and both Corti and a law-enforcement source think the killer may be another Warlock.

"It had nothing to do with any Pagan," Corti said.

Jason Laughlin, a spokesman for the Camden County Prosecutor's Office, said investigators have not determined whether Panetta's affiliation with the Warlocks had anything to do with his death. Investigators have not identified a suspect.

In 2011, the Burlington County Times reported that police in Riverside, Burlington County, considered Panetta a potential suspect in a stabbing outside the White Eagle Tavern there. Witnesses told police that Panetta was wearing his "colors," a vest from the Warlocks' Philadelphia chapter, when he fled on a maroon Harley Davidson. A Riverside detective handling that case was unavailable for comment Monday, and it was unclear whether Panetta was ever questioned.

Court records show that Panetta had been charged with resisting arrest, assault and other charges in the past in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Panetta grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and, according to one online resume, worked various construction jobs. His father, daughter and sister could not be reached for comment Monday, and a girlfriend with whom he lived in Camden County declined to comment. According to his Facebook page, the tattooed biker traveled across the country with friends in recent years atop his maroon Harley.

Unlike many bars in New Jersey, the Last Chance Saloon doesn't prohibit bikers from wearing club colors. Still, neither Panetta nor the person with whom he entered the bar was wearing colors or riding a motorcycle, Corti said.

"I allow everyone in," he said. "It's open to the general public."

Anyone with information about Panetta's death is asked to call Camden County Prosecutor's Office investigator Janene Bahr at 856-225-8400.

On Twitter: @JasonNark

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