Hit man in Neulander killing to be released

Paul Michael Daniels said drugs played a role in the killing.
Paul Michael Daniels said drugs played a role in the killing.
Posted: August 19, 2014

A hit man hired by a South Jersey rabbi to kill his wife is set to be freed from prison a day before the 20th anniversary of the murder.

Paul Michael Daniels, 40, has spent 14 years in state prison for his role in the killing of Carol Neulander on Nov. 1, 1994.

Daniels' attorney, Craig Mitnick, said Sunday his client will go free Oct. 31.

"Paul may be getting released physically from prison, but mentally he'll always be in prison," Mitnick said.

According to prosecutors, Daniels and Len Jenoff were hired by Rabbi Fred J. Neulander to kill his wife. Jenoff, who at times claimed falsely to have worked for the CIA, was released in January.

Neulander was once the respected leader of Congregation M'kor Shalom in Cherry Hill. Prosecutors said he solicited his wife's killing because their marriage was hindering his affair with Elaine Soncini, then a local radio personality.

Neulander, 72, is serving a life sentence in state prison.

His wife, the mother of three children, was known for her business skills as the founder of two bakeries in South Jersey. She was raised on Long Island with a sister and two brothers.

At his sentencing, Daniels admitted to being an accomplice in the killing so he could get $7,500 to buy drugs. For cooperating with prosecutors, Daniels and Jenoff were allowed to plead guilty to aggravated manslaughter and were required to serve at least 10 years. They could have served up to 23 years.

Daniels and Jenoff testified that they used a lead pipe to bludgeon Carol Neulander in her Cherry Hill home. The scene - staged as though it were a robbery - was revealed as a killing for hire when Jenoff confessed to his role in 2000 to Inquirer reporter Nancy Phillips, now the paper's city editor.

The scheduled release of Daniels, formerly of Pennsauken, was first reported by the Courier-Post on Sunday.

In 2003, standing before the court and the Neulander family, Daniels said he was remorseful but blamed his addiction. "It wasn't me at the time," he said, "I was on drugs."

Daniels is no longer addicted to drugs, but he is vulnerable, with a history of mental illness, according to his lawyer. "No one knows what the future holds for him," Mitnick said. "He realizes the horrific nature of that crime."

Mitnick said much of the blame belonged to the victim's husband.

"Rabbi Neulander not only took his wife's life, but he ruined many other lives, and one of them was Paul Daniels'," he said. "There's no justification for what was done, but he's served his time."


dpurcell@phillynews.com

215-854-4915

@dylancpurcell

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