Cold-case confession in 1990 death of S. Jersey teen

Steven L. Goff, 41, of Ventnor, in Atlantic County Superior Court on Tuesday. He told the judge, "I was prepared to enter a guilty plea right here and now."
Steven L. Goff, 41, of Ventnor, in Atlantic County Superior Court on Tuesday. He told the judge, "I was prepared to enter a guilty plea right here and now." (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: April 04, 2013

Steven L. Goff first landed in jail as a young man who made "bad and stupid decisions" during his "misspent youth," he wrote in an online profile.

Mostly for drug possession and distribution, he noted.

Now, at 41, the Ventnor man is back in jail after he surrendered Monday morning, making a surprise confession to the murder of Frederick Hart, 15, of Galloway Township, nearly 23 years ago.

"I did the crime and I'm prepared to do . . . whatever I gotta do," Goff said at his first court appearance before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Michael A. Donio in Mays Landing.

"I was prepared to enter a guilty plea right here and now," Goff said.

The judge interrupted, "Whoa, let's back up . . ." advising Goff he had been charged - not yet indicted - and was entitled to a lawyer.

At times crying and struggling to compose himself, Goff said he could not afford a lawyer and would request a public defender only if it expedited the process.

He remains in jail with bail set at $1 million.

Before Goff surrendered, authorities did not know for sure that Hart had been murdered.

Hart disappeared in May 1990, but it was not until December 1991 that a hunter discovered his remains in a wooded area behind the Clubs Condominiums in Galloway Township. By then, the body was so decomposed that authorities could not say conclusively how the teen had died.

Authorities have not said whether Goff told them why he killed Hart, how the two knew each other, or why Goff came forward now.

In his rambling online profile, Goff shares his thoughts on controlling information.

"I firmly believe that information and its control in content, creation and distribution to the masses . . . is more powerful than oil or gold," he wrote on a website for online stock traders.

Monday, Goff walked into the Galloway Police Department and confessed to fatally stabbing Hart on May 7, 1990, when he was 18, authorities said. He is charged with murder and a weapons offense.

On a Twitter account, Goff used a picture of himself and his dog, a beagle mix. A quote beneath the picture says, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take."

According to his online profile for Stockpickr!, Goff originally was from Egg Harbor. Police said he most recently lived in an apartment on Hillside Avenue in Ventnor.

In the online profile, he said he worked as a plumber and electrician, and he keeps few friends. He mentions nothing of a family.

Goff detailed that he was in jail from the ages of 18 to 24. Having a felony conviction limited what he could do in life, which angered him because "I have some big ideas . . .," he wrote.

According to state criminal records, Goff's troubles with police began as a teenager. He was charged with burglary in Atlantic County in 1990 and in Burlington County in 1991. He pleaded guilty both times, records show.

In 1992, he was sentenced to a five-year sentence, with a mandatory two years, on a conspiracy charge. He was paroled in 1994.

In the profile, Goff did not include a political affiliation, only, "I'm for the greater good of our species." For religious views, he listed agnostic/atheist, "a man of science and logic, not faith."

His real passion, he wrote, is the stock market. He called himself an "economics junkie."

He also wrote that he dreamed of being discovered for his economic and social strategies and that he would like to work most for Rupert Murdoch or Richard Branson. He called himself a math whiz and wrote, "I would love to teach kids."

As he stood in court Tuesday, his prophecies for his life fell short: that he would make a lot of money, that he would "look toward my future and not worry about my past."

Contact Barbara Boyer

at 856-779-3838,, or follow on Twitter @BBBoyer.

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