Victim: Iofemi Hightower

Illegal Alien Gang Lines Up Four Youths and Shoots Them - 3 Die, 1 Survives

Perpetrator: Jose Larchire Carranza

Crime Description:

On 4 August 2007, four Delaware State students were lined up against the wall and shot in execution style fashion. Dashon Harvey, 20, Terrance Aeriel, 18, and Iofemi Hightower, 20, were all killed. Despite being shot in the face and slashed with a knife, 19-year-old Natasha Aeriel, 19, survived the attack and was able to help police identify perpetrators.

The victims were all forced to kneel by a wall behind Mount Vernon School in Newark where they were each shot in the head.

All the victims were from Newark; and all would soon either start or resume their lives away from the violent city, at a college hundreds of miles away.

Essex County Prosecutor Paula Dow said that none of the victims had criminal records and went to the lot behind Mount Vernon School that Saturday night to hang out and listen to music.

Ofemi Hightower been accepted Thursday to Delaware State University after two years of rejection letters. Terrance Aerial was a business major there and an ordained minister, while his sister Natasha was to depart for Dover after the weekend to return to summer classes and a job at a Subway sandwich shop. Deshawn Harvey was also due back at the university this week for his job in the school's administration building.

Six perpetrators were arrested and charged for the crimes:

Jose Larchire Carranza, 31, , aka Jose La Chira, an illegal alien from Peru, of Orange, N.J., was charged of three counts of murder, four counts of robbery, and one count of attempted murder. Carranza had been arrested twice in 2007 on felony charges, but in both cases he was allowed to go free on bail. Just a month before the shootings, he was charged with the long-term sexual abuse of a child, 5, and threats to kill her family. When Orange police arrested Carranza in January, Judge John Kennedy set the initial bail at $150,000, which he posted by bond. Months later, an Essex County grand jury indicted him on 31 counts on allegations of child rape. This time a second bail was set at $300,000.. However, Essex County Judge Thomas Vena agreed to consolidate the charges, and allowed Carranza to go free based on the bond he posted in the original case.

"He should have been off the street," Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura. But the Essex County Prosecutor's Office never alerted the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Carranza was an illegal alien and out on the streets, as recommended by federal guidelines.

Rodolfo Godinez, 24, a Nicaraguan national, entered the US in 1992 and was ordered deported in 1993, according to ICE. Godinez subsequently obtained a green card in 2001 and was allowed to stay in the United States despite later robbery and assault arrests, immigration authorities said yesterday. Police Director Garry McCarthy called Godinez "a principal player" in the slayings and said he would be charged with three counts of murder, felony murder and weapons charges

Melvin Jovel, 18, was apprehended a few days latter. Jovel was captured without incident at the home of a relative. About 10 officers from the Newark police department, Essex County Prosecutor's office and Immigration and Customs Enforcement made the arrest. He was charged with murder.

Alexander Alfaro, 16, Godinez’s half-brother, who attended Mount Vernon School, the scene of the slaying was also arrested. There are reports that Alfaro and his classmate “started bragging on how they were part of this gang, MS-13,” said another classmate of the duo.

A 16-year-old classmate of Alfaro was also arrested.

A 15-year-old juvenile.

Referencing Carranza, "This is one that slipped through the cracks. He's an illegal alien," said outraged dad James Harvey, whose son Dashon was murdered. Harvey said that Carranza, the alleged ringleader, "should never have been out in the first place." "He's got child abuse charges. He's got a weapon. It's an outrage to the justice system and the community that he's out."

At a press conference at the scene of the crime, Newark Mayor Cory Booker echoed that sentiment. "You can obviously say that the system is not working," said Booker. "We have a problem." He also said there still seemed to be no motive in the triple slay. "That is the chilling part. This is a pure manifestation of evil action," said Booker.

State Attorney General Anne Milgram is reviewing how Carranza was free on bail on two separate indictments at the time of the killings despite being in the country illegally.

Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura said of Jose Carranza, "He should have been off the street,"

The Essex County Prosecutor's Office never alerted the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Carranza was an illegal alien and out on the streets, as recommended by federal guidelines.


10AUG07, CNN
Warrant issued for fourth suspect in Newark slayings

6AUG07, WCBS 880
Three Dead in Shooting Behind Newark School

9AUG07, CBS 2
2nd Suspect In N.J. Execution Murders Surrenders - Police Have In Custody 15-Year Old Boy, 31-Year Old Man

11AUG07, New York Daily News
He\\\'s freed (twice) to kill - Newark thug out on bail in kid-sex & weapon raps by Adam Nichols

11AUG07, NY Post
FREE TO KILL, by Austin Fenner, Jeane MacIntosh, and Eric Lenkowitz

Newark Murder Suspect\\\'s Status Raises Eyebrows - Jose Carranza Lived In Orange Illegally; Walked Free After Two Arrests This Year by Scott Weinberger

14AUG07, CNN
Newark suspects fell through immigration cracks

18AUG07, CBS
Feds Arrest 2 More In N.J. Execution Murder Case

19AUG07, North Jersey Media Group,
Heinous murders put spotlight on immigration, by Mike Kelly

19AUG07, wnbc.com
Sixth Suspect Arrested In Triple Murder In Newark