The quiet town of Maplewood was rattled following the double homicide of Karen Bermudez-Rodriguez and David Kimowitz that occurred on August 3.
According to NorthJersey.com, Karen Bermudez-Rodriguez was part of a program that placed au-pairs with families who might need the extra help with their children or around the house. She came from Colombia and helped David Kimowitz and his wife with their two children.
Bermudez-Rodriguez, who worked in the home of Kimowitz, owner of “The Stand,” a New York City Comedy club, was the intended target of the homicide. She and Kimowitz were both fatally stabbed inside the Maplewood residence.
The suspect, Joseph Porter, was Bermudez-Rodriguez’s former boyfriend and grew upset following her attempts to break off their relationship the night prior and drove to Kimowitz’s home to find her.
Upon his arrival, Porter entered the home and stabbed Kimowitz, who later died at the scene. He then bound the hands of Bermudez-Rodriguez and stabbed her outside the home, in the street, after she broke free and attempted to run away from him.
Witnesses found her outside the home and when police arrived, she was reported to have had multiple stab wounds. She later died at the hospital.
Authorities found Porter soon after, attempting to board a flight departing from Newark Liberty International airport. He was allegedly trying to leave the United States and travel to Cancun.
The local police department in Maplewood as well as the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office are actively investigating the homicide.
The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed in a press release that since his arrest, “Porter was charged with two counts of murder, possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal restraint. He is being lodged in the Essex County Correctional Facility pending an appearance in the Superior Court.”
Some Seton Hall students were shaken by the event, remarking on the campus’s close proximity to the small North Jersey town.
Jilliane Laurizio, a rising senior double majoring in education and social and behavioral sciences was unsettled about the homicide, noting her own experiences of working in Maplewood.
“I babysit quite often in Maplewood and I was shocked to hear that it happened there,” Laurizio said. “I’ve always thought of Maplewood as a quiet and quaint town. Since then, I’ve noticed an increase in police patrolling the area, which has helped me feel safer.”
Taina Vasquez, a rising senior majoring in criminal justice with a minor in political science called the murders “shocking and eye opening.” When asked about whether the incident changed her opinion on the area, she commented that it had not but, “it has made me more vigilant and aware of my surroundings at all times.”
Gina Gryskiewicz, a rising senior majoring in political science commented on how she recently moved to South Orange to live off campus and how the double homicide was, “so upsetting and tragic to hear.”
Gryskiewicz echoed Vasquez’s sentiments, stating that what occurred was “especially unsettling” given the location.
Ibukunoluwa Akintola, a rising senior majoring in physics with a minor in graphic design also commented on the tragedy and how it occurred close to her home.
“It was so chilling to learn about the incident, seeing as it happened on my street, just a couple of houses away,” Akintola said. “SOMA (South Orange-Maplewood) is such a quiet area that it was completely unexpected. Knowing that someone so close in age to me found one of the victims, truly reminds me how precious life is and how we shouldn’t take it for granted.”
Akintola concluded by stating, “My heart goes out to the families involved and I wish them peace in such a trying time.”
Rhania Kamel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find her on Twitter @RhaniaKamel.