Maplewood Police Capt. John Perna credits his Detective Bureau for working overtime to solve crimes, leading to arrests in recent cases.
"Under Lt. Michael Marucci's leadership, the bureau has been working day and night to resolve cases," said Perna. "There is always a sense of urgency to bring cases to a conclusion," he said, "and we have had a lot of clearances in a short time."
Recently, detectives arrested two men said Marucci.
In the first incident, a man was walking home on Brookwood Drive on Sept. 23 at 9:50 p.m. when a man in a Ford Taurus pulled up next to him. The man, who was wearing a ski mask, pointed a handgun and demanded the victim's cellphone.
Later that night, the Hillside Police Department arrested a man in an armed robbery and found the Maplewood man's cell phone in his possession.
Maplewood Det. Robert Smith interviewed the man, 19-year-old Irvington resident Ivan Avelar, and was able to get him to confess to the crime in Maplewood.
"Just because the phone was found did not make it a slam dunk case," said Perna. "The detective has to persuade the suspect to speak to them, and that is a skill. Without the confession, we don't have a case."
Avelar was charged with robbery and weapons possession. He is awaiting trial in the Union County jail.
In the second incident, eight teenagers assaulted an 18-year-old Newark man who was walking on the corner of Springfield and Chancellor avenues on Sept. 21. Maplewood detectives canvassed the area and found an eyewitness who had seen a man wearing the backpack.
From the witness' description, Det. Raymond Rosania remembered a man who had been involved in previous incidents in the township. From a photo line-up, the witness identified Milford Barthelemy, an 18-year-old Irvington High School student. Rosania put out a statewide alert on Barthelemy. A few days later, Maplewood Police Officer Katherine Cox saw Barthelemy walking on Jacoby Street and arrested him.
Detectives charged Barthelemy with robbery. However, he declined to give detectives information about others involved in the attack. "It's very frustrating to us as detectives when we think people know more than they are saying," said Marucci.
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