Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio announced today that six individuals were arrested and charged in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Regina Baker, a 29-year-old Jersey City mother of five.
On June 19, Baker’s body was found inside a vacant townhouse on South 15th Street in Newark. She died from multiple gun shot wounds. She was killed shortly after being abducted in Jersey City and brought to Newark.
“This was a particularly vicious crime. It also serves to demonstrate the mobility of the criminal element of our society. I commend the outstanding investigative work put forth by personnel from the Jersey City Police Department, Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, Newark Police Department and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office,” said Jersey City Police Chief Thomas Comey.
“This investigation illustrates yet another collaborative effort between law enforcement agencies in dealing with cross-jurisdictional violent crimes,’’ said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward J. De Fazio.
Several of the individuals were previously charged with kidnapping by the Jersey City Police, , which along with the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, provided substantial assistance in the investigation and arrest of the individuals in custody, said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Thomas Fennelly, director of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Homicide Unit.
Those charged with murder are Omar Martin, 23, of Newark, Karon Adams, 23, of Irvington, Damon Zengotita, 36, of Hillside and Michelle Paden, 37, of Newark. All four were also charged with conspiracy to commit murder, felony murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and weapons offenses. Bail for all four of the defendants charged with murder was set at $1 million.
Two other suspects were charged with kidnapping and conspiracy to commit a kidnapping. They are Dabia Younger, 19, of Newark and Francheska DePena, 30, of Montclair.
Younger’s bail was set at $250,000. Bail for DePena was set at $300,000.
“The investigation is active and ongoing and it is possible that additional charges may be forthcoming,’’ said Chief Assistant Prosecutor Fennelly. The cases will be prosecuted in Essex County.
Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio stated, “I applaud the continued investigative work and collaborative efforts demonstrated by the investigators from the Newark Police Department, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, Jersey City Police Department and the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office for the quick arrests of the individuals that perpetrated this heinous act.’’
“While our first priority was to arrest these dangerous and violent criminals, it was equally important to bring them to justice,” Director DeMaio added.
Adams, Paden, Zengotita and DePena are being housed in the Essex County Correctional Facility. Younger and Martin are in Hudson County.
These are accusations. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they plead guilty or are found guilty in a court of law.