Saturday, February 13, 2010

Murder In Princeton

I don't like to post these kind of stories, they take away from my blog, but the reason I am doing will be clear to my regular readers, who know my back story.

From the Trentonian,

PRINCETON TWP. — A 69-year-old Highland Park man who had just learned how to use the computer was found beaten to death, allegedly by his 18-year-old roommate, late Thursday night at the Princeton House, a behavioral health unit of Princeton HealthCare System.

The roommate, Michael Leal of New Brunswick, was arrested on the premises and charged with murder. The victim, James Dunlavy, was pronounced dead in his room.

An autopsy by Mercer County Medical Examiner Dr. Raafat Ahmad’s office showed death was caused “by massive blunt head trauma,” reported Casey DeBlasio, spokeswoman for County Prosecutor Joe Bocchini.

Asked what caused the violent eruption, DeBlasio said, “The motive is unclear.” Nor could she say why the short-term adult care psychiatric unit had put two men of such disparate ages together as roommates.

The homicide was the first in Princeton Township in almost 28 years. The body of a missing 19-year-old girl from Lawrence Township, Maura E. Gottlieb, was found strangled in the Delaware and Raritan Canal about 30 feet from Harrison Street on March 14, 1982. That case remains unsolved, Princeton Township police Sgt. Ernie Silagyi told DeBlasio (see sidebar).

Princeton Medical Center is part of Princeton HealthCare System, as is Princeton House. The two roommates were private patients, not inmates placed there by any municipality DeBlasio said she had no information on why they were there.

Asked if detectives had found a weapon or knew what weapon had been used other than fists, DeBlasio said, “At this point I’m just going to say that he was severely beaten. Other details will have to wait until the bail hearing,” which likely won’t take place until the end of next week.

Yesterday, on-call Mercer County Superior Court Judge Douglas Hurd ordered the suspect held on $500,000 bail. Leal is lodged in the Mercer County Correction Center, known as the workhouse.

No one answered the phone at Dunlavy’s address on Sixth Avenue in Highland Park.

A quick Internet search failed to find any biographical information about Dunlavy or Leal.

“I can’t tell you how rewarding and exciting it was to find and be able to do the first tutorial,” Dunlavy told Microsoft Word Tutorials in an Internet testimonial. “That’s why I sent for the second and third. I’m a senior, and trying to find my way on the computer has been next to impossible. But your tutorial was so clear.

“Finally I have been able to connect with someone who speaks in a language regarding computers that I can easily understand. (And I almost have a degree in Electrical Engineering, so I have tackled some hard stuff),” Dunlavy wrote.

“It’s just some people like you have the ability to put matters in plain language that is easily understandable.”

He dated it July 29, 2008 — upbeat, hopeful words of a man with only 19 more months to live.

Bocchini’s detective, Robert Crusen, is working with Princeton Township police Detective Annette Henderson on the case.

New Jersey State Police processed the crime scene.


Deputy's Wife said...

I am completely lost as how this relates to you (I'm a regular reader, but haven't been for that long), but I'm glad you posted. Psych units can be very scary places and it's unfortunate that things like this happen when we need care the most!

Stephany said...

I don't think it takes away from the blog at all, it is important to show how things go in the mental health world, and this is a sad situation, where things could have been different, if the person had their own room etc. Many people don't know what it's like inside psych hospitals or institutions, and some places (as you know) have sometimes 3 people per room.

Anyway, hopefully this will be properly investigated, because where was the staff that this attack could last so long that someone died?

Anonymous said...

What a horrible story. It only serves to confirm my belief about psychiatric hospitals that they are very ill-equipped to handle what they are supposed to be able to handle. People who need monitoring are not monitored. People who need assistance are not given assistance. It's really a shame-- not to mention extremely dangerous.

susan said...

HI Deputy'e Wife,
I've been there several times as a patient, and several times as an out patient program- I am currently doing the out patient program now there..... I cannot say more right now but will in the future.....but lets just say, I was very surprised to read this, even though I wasn't in hindsight.

Thank you Stephany. It is a sad issue, but it's also might be playing out as a racial issue. We shall see. It's too early to tell. I'll know more and report, like I do on Ancora.

Merry_Christmas said...

Susan, Kenny went to Princeton House in Hamilton on the out patient program. Unfortunately, he didn't find it helpful and was very bored. He asked to go the the bathroom and "escaped." Once they realized he was gone, they went looking for him. They called him on his cell phone and he kept telling them his location. I am at the 7-11. I am near the bagel store, etc. He kept describing various locations. After about 2 hours they finally called us and we called Kenny. We were talking to him and getting different descriptions. While we were talking to Kenny, they said they had him, then he was in sight. Back and forth. It wasn't making sense, so Tricia started following the bus path from our house and picked him up in about 10 minutes. He had been giving them false locations and kept them going for several hours. First we were shocked they didn't call us much sooner when they knew he was gone. And second that after hours of him tricking them, they never seemed to figure it out.

Unfortunately, Kenny was too smart for his own good. He would often play with doctors he didn't much care for or respect. The night he died, he told his case manager exactly what he wanted to hear, so he didn't send him to the hospital for evaluation. Even tough, Tricia told him point blank, I think Kenny is out committing suicide, just before he walked in the door and took the call from the case manager. We often as friends and family need to go with our gut. Many of his friends were worried about him that day. Nobody thought to call us. Just one more thing, and I know we would have taken him in regardless of what the case manger said.

Kurtis Baker

susan said...

Kurtis, my heart breaks when I read about Kenny and it was touched by all the walkers on last year's Nami walk that walked in his memory. I am sorry I never met him, he sounds like he was a wonderful person.

susan said...

Oh I look forward to walking this year in his memory with you and your family.

Mark p.s.2 said...

"Relationships of all kinds are like holding sand in your hand
Hold it loosely with an open hand, the sand remains where it is
The tighter you grasp it, the faster it trickles through your fingers"

Anonymous said...

"How do you sit with a shattered soul? Gently and with deep respect for time stands still for the shattered..." I feel for the patients and for the staff at the hospital. I hope people stop pointing fingers and work to help both the the caregivers and those who need the care.

susan said...

Anon- I love that quote. The hospital use to be really good in the 70's, 80.s and 90s. It needs an overhaul now. Maybe this was the wake up call. I ;m just sorry it took a death to do it.

Syd said...

Sad situation but then murders are so senseless and tragic.

Anonymous said...

I did two tours of Princeton House and never had nothing but love for that place except the doctors..I made quite a few friends there too..But they usually put the "worse case" scenarios on a seperate wing don't know why they were even together.

Anonymous said...

UNfortunately, doctors today don't give a crap about their patients its all about the money and the few that do care usually medicate severly. The dr. I had was a "keep em medicated kinda guy" to the point of I was nodding off to the extreme and to top it all off was misdiagnosed. It took 6 yrs later for a outside shrink to tell me what was really wrong. All those meds later (that I didn't need) and I was able to manage my diagnosis without medication(my own choice) I used to b.s. the dr's all the time and tell them what they wanted to hear but now that I am much older and wiser I know thats only hurting me not them.

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