Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced today that Bartholomew Bradley, 53, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Newark, has been charged with the murder of a homeless Guatemalan immigrant.
Back in May a decomposed body of a Hispanic male washed up at the Passaic River Sewage treatment facility on Wilson Avenue in Newark. The body was so badly decomposed the usual methods of identifying the victim were unsuccessful.
Last week, after months of investigative and scientific work, law enforcement authorities were able to identify the victim as Vilchis Francisco Alonzo Ramirez, 23, a homeless man who is believed to have come to the U.S. about a year ago.
It is alleged that Bradley and the victim got into a dispute over money. A fight ensued. Both men ended up in the river. Bradley came out alive but Ramirez did not. The investigation was initially stymied because detectives were unable identify the dead man.
In an effort to determine the decedent’s identity, his femur was sent to the University of North Texas Center for Identification of Human Remains. Mitochondrial DNA testing there was able to link the victim with his parents in Guatemala.
Working with the Guatemalan Consulate, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office was able to obtain DNA swabs from the victim’s parents. On Oct. 21 the University of Texas scientists gave the prosecutor’s office a report indicating there had been a positive identification of the victim.
The Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide. Arrest warrants were signed on Friday, Oct. 22 by the Honorable Peter Vazquez. Today, at approximately 3:10 p.m. it was determined that Bradley is already in custody in New York at Rikers Island Prison.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly, who heads the homicide unit, said the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has contacted authorities in New York to make arrangements for Bradley’s return to New Jersey after he answers the charges he is facing in New York.
At the time of the altercation it is believe that both the defendant and the decedent were homeless men living under the Jackson Street Bridge in Newark.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Fennelly said the case may have gone unsolved but for the fact that a friend of the victim, another homeless person, went to the Newark Police Department and reported him missing. Newark Police promptly began investigating the missing person’s report. At the time the victim was identified as Daniel Wilson.
Acting Prosecutor Laurino commended the Newark Police Department and investigators with the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office for their extraordinary work in solving this case.
These are mere accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.