Hit man in killing of rabbi's wife to be freed from prison

Len Jenoff confessed to being the hit man in the murder of Carol Neulander. The former private detective is now 68.
Len Jenoff confessed to being the hit man in the murder of Carol Neulander. The former private detective is now 68. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 25, 2014

CHERRY HILL The confessed hit man hired by Rabbi Fred Neulander to murder his wife, Carol, is expected to be released from prison Friday.

Len Jenoff, now 68, is expected to leave Mid-State Correctional Facility in Wrightstown, according to state corrections spokesman Matthew Schuman. Sentenced to a maximum of 23 years in 2003, Jenoff served his mandatory minimum term of 10 years and is to be released without having to answer to parole, the spokesman said.

"According to the law, he fulfilled the terms of his incarceration," Schuman said.

Jenoff, a former private detective who battled with alcoholism and at times claimed falsely to have worked for the CIA, was the prime witness against Neulander, who had been the respected leader of Cherry Hill's Congregation M'kor Shalom. The rabbi's first trial ended with a hung jury. He was convicted at retrial and is serving a life sentence.

Jenoff, a former Collingswood resident, testified that he and an accomplice, a troubled man named Paul Michael Daniels, now 39, bludgeoned Carol Neulander, 52, to death with a lead pipe in 1994 in the couple's home after the rabbi promised to pay $30,000. Jenoff first confessed to the killing to Inquirer reporter Nancy Phillips.

Prosecutors said Neulander wanted his wife, the mother of their three children, dead so he would be free to pursue an affair with Elaine Soncini, then a local radio personality.

Neulander, now 72 and in New Jersey State Prison, maintained that Jenoff was lying.

Relatives of Carol Neulander either could not be reached or declined to comment.

"Whatever my thoughts are, I'm not interested in being quoted in The Inquirer," said Edward Lidz, one of Carol Neulander's siblings. "There's no point anymore. The horse is out of the barn. It's been too many years.

Jenoff's plans are unclear. Sources said his son Martin, now in his mid-30s and who does not live in the area, was expected to pick him up from prison. Len Jenoff is divorced from his third wife.

Jenoff and his son both declined to be interviewed prior to the release.

Jenoff has expressed remorse for killing Carol Neulander.

Francis Hartman, the attorney who represented him, said he had not spoken with Jenoff recently.

However, he said Jenoff had told him "the only good thing" to come out of that chapter in his life was that he and his son got closer.

Even before he was implicated in the murder, Jenoff seemed to be fixated on the rabbi, Hartman said.

At one point while in prison, Jenoff even made an attempt at recanting his story, but later said he had testified truthfully.

"He was lacking something in his life when he wasn't involved with the rabbi," said the lawyer.

How Jenoff will fare out of prison is unknown, Hartman said.

"I suspect Lenny is a survivor. He will probably come out and try to pick up the pieces. How well he'll be able to do that, I have no idea," Hartman said.

He said it probably won't be easy.

"It's difficult to be out of society for so long. It's hard to get employment at his age," he said.

Before going into prison, Jenoff was in Camden County custody from May 2000 to January 2003.

His state time was unremarkable. He was not a problem prisoner, according to Schuman.

He spent his years in several state prisons. His day would have started by 8 a.m. He would have been served three meals a day and had the option of recreation two or three times a day.

Jenoff worked in food service, making under $2 a day, Schuman said.

He will be entering his new life with whatever possessions he brought to prison, if he chooses to take them, and with the money in his prison account, however much that may be.

Daniels, who had a history of addiction and mental health issues, is expected to be released next year.


856-779-3893

rgiordano@phillynews.com

@ritagiordano

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