Winslow Twp. man, 54, arrested in fatal hit-and-run

COURTNEY MARABELLA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A memorial candle at the site where Tomboyeke was struck.
COURTNEY MARABELLA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A memorial candle at the site where Tomboyeke was struck.
Posted: March 20, 2013

A 54-YEAR-OLD man has been charged in the weekend hit-and-run death of an African immigrant in Winslow Township, Camden County, prosecutors said Monday.

Joseph Thornton, of Mary Court in Winslow, was charged with death by auto and with leaving the scene of a fatal accident. He was being held at the Camden County Jail on $185,000 bail.

Thornton is accused of driving a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am that struck Ezekiel Tomboyeke, 59, about 11:30 p.m. Saturday on Pump Branch Road as Tomboyeke was walking home after work. Police said Thornton drove off afterward.

Police said an anonymous tip led them early Sunday morning to Thornton's home, where they found the Pontiac with visible damage.

Tomboyeke, who fled his native Sierra Leone in the late 1990s during the country's civil war, was pronounced dead at Virtual Berlin. Family members said the father of five worked as a package handler at United Parcel Service in Lawnside to support his children, who still live in Sierra Leone.

Relatives said they were relieved to hear of the arrest.

"The family has a lot more closure now, but we're just trying to hold our head [up]," said Alhaji Mustapha, a nephew of Tomboyeke. "My uncle is still not here, but it makes us feel a little better that the guy got apprehended."

One of Tomboyeke's brothers, with whom he lived in Chesilhurst, was in Africa and informed Tomboyeke's children of the news.

"It was a lot of shock at first, disbelief. They didn't believe it could happen to their father," Mustapha said.

Mustapha said the family has not decided whether Tomboyeke will have a funeral in South Jersey or in Sierra Leone.


On Twitter: @ChroniclesofSol

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