A 25-year-old Cape May County man, killed with a bow and arrow Monday night, was not a violent man, his former girlfriend Lauren Palmer said.

Palmer dated Kereti Paulsen for more than four years after the couple met at Eastern High School in Voorhees. They have a 5-year-old daughter, Aurora.

“He was not one to throw a punch if it could be avoided,” she said, occasionally sobbing as she spoke to a reporter.

“He was a really good guy. He had a very good heart. He did make a lot of poor decisions in his life,” Palmer said.

Paulsen died Monday night after he was fatally shot with an arrow at a home in Berlin, Camden County.

According to the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office, Paulsen was hit by the arrow after Paulsen and another person engaged in a fistfight between 10 and 10:45 p.m. Monday. Another man, Timothy Canfield, 25, of Berlin, who was not involved in that fight, allegedly shot the arrow.

During a court appearance Wednesday, defense attorney Jeffrey Zucker said Canfield believed Paulsen “may try to infect his family with HIV,” and that Canfield only wanted to scare Paulsen, according to reports by the South Jersey Times of Woodbury.

The newspaper also reported that Zucker said Paulsen had stalked his ex-girlfriend, who is the sister of Canfield’s fiance.

The Prosecutor’s Office said Canfield admitted to driving to a wooded area in Winslow to dispose the weapon. It was recovered Tuesday.

Paulsen, who had been shot in the stomach, was pronounced dead at Virtua Hospital in Berlin. Authorities said he died after the arrow tore through a vein in his pelvis.

The news shocked Palmer and Paulsen’s family. Palmer said she last spoke to him two days prior to his death.

His mother called her Tuesday to tell her that Paulsen had died.

“They are devastated. That was her baby boy,” Palmer said, adding that Paulsen was one of three children.

In their last conversation, Palmer and Paulsen spoke about his drug addiction. “He battled it every day,” she said.

State Superior Court records in Cape May County showed Paulsen had a record of arrests for narcotics and forgery in Camden County. He was most recently arrested by Middle Township police in December and charged with shoplifting from the Kmart in Rio Grande.

Despite his addiction and troubles with the law, however, Palmer said that she never doubted Paulsen’s affections for his daughter.

“He loved her very much. Everything he could do for her he did,” she said. “Aurora would always come home and talk about their visits.”

She said she told the girl that her father had died and Aurora said she “wanted to hug him before he went to heaven.”

Palmer said a woman Paulsen had been dating lived at the Berlin home where he was shot.

“He had a rocky relationship,” Palmer said.

But while she and Paulsen stopped dating some time ago, they remained friends.

“He was my comic relief. He was just fun to be around,” she said.

Palmer said she did not know when a funeral would be held, as the body had not yet been released by investigators.

Paulsen had most recently worked as a bartender and server at One Fish, Two Fish, a restaurant in Wildwood. Paulsen’s family still lives in Cape May County, Palmer said.

Paulsen was a student at Wildwood High School from 2000 to 2002, his freshman and sophomore years, Principal Chris Armstrong said Wednesday.

Armstrong and current staffers, however, were not familiar with Paulsen.

Canfield was being held on a murder charge under $800,000 bail at the Camden County jail, the South Jersey Times reported.

Contact Trudi Gilfillian:

609-463-6716