Two brothers accused of tampering with evidence in the fatal abduction of a teen mother from Atlantic City last year were indicted this week.
Henry and Ronnie Ruffin allegedly threatened their nephew, Isiah Ruffin, when they believed he was talking to investigators about what happened to Nadirah Ruffin — who is not related to any of the men accused in the case.
Nadirah Ruffin, 19, was found dead in Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River on April 19, 2011, less than a month after she was forced at gunpoint from her cousin’s Back Maryland home.
Three people — including Ronnie Ruffin’s daughter — are accused of forcing their way into the home March 26, 2011, wearing masks and carrying guns. They duct-taped the four women inside — including Nadirah — and pistol-whipped at least two of them. Nadirah Ruffin was forced from the apartment after she allegedly named the suspected female assailant, Shamerria Smith.
A community effort to help find the missing teen ended April 19 when her body was found, a gunshot wound to her head and a handcuff on her ankle.
Six people were arrested in October. Smith, 25, is charged with kidnapping and murder, along with her cousin Aziz Sanders, 19, and another man, Deshawn Hicks, 20. The three have not been indicted. They could face the death penalty in the case, but that has not yet been determined. Because it is a federal crime, capital punishment is a possibility even though New Jersey abolished it.
The group targeted the home because the renter’s boyfriend, Donald Hawkins, beat up Isiah, the complaint states. Hawkins was recently arrested on gun possession charges unrelated to this case.
Nadirah Ruffin recognized her attacker, the charges say.
“Shamerria, why are you doing this to me?” she was heard asking Smith, two of the victims told police. “You know me.”
Smith then allegedly replied: “Now we got to take the (expletive)” and “now we have to kill the (expletive).”
Smith’s father and uncle came into the picture later, allegedly threatening their nephew, Isiah, who they believed was talking to the FBI, the charges against them state.
Two witnesses who are not named in the complaint told investigators that Henry and Ronnie Ruffin went to the home of Isiah’s then-girlfriend — identified in court records as T.K. — where they physically assaulted Isiah and accused him of talking to investigators.
“What the (expletive) are you saying?” they screamed, the complaint states. “What are you telling the FBI?”
Isiah was then allegedly pulled from the home by his uncles and taken to Smith’s home. The complaint does not list addresses for either home.
Attorneys for the Ruffin brothers have insisted that the men went to their nephew not to stop him from talking to authorities, but to stop him from taking drugs.
Henry and Ronnie Ruffin were indicted on charges of conspiracy to tamper with a witness and witness tampering.
Isiah Ruffin is also charged in the case, with allegedly lying to investigators. He was released on bond in December, the only defendant to be free pending trial. He has not been indicted.
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