TRENTON — A Jersey City man was charged Monday with two counts each of murder and desecrating human remains of bodies that were found in Buena Vista Township.
Yusuf Ibrahim, 28, allegedly shot the two other Jersey City men during a dispute in a parked car in that city last week and their dismembered remains were later buried behind a home on the 1100 block of Harding Highway, First Assistant Attorney General Thomas Calcagni said during a press conference Monday afternoon in Trenton.
“These were very grisly murders of two men shot at very close range before severing their heads and hands in a gruesome attempt to prevent their identification,” Calcagni said.
At the press conference, New Jersey State Police announced that State Police detectives, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Ibrahim, of Jersey City, in an apartment in Bayonne on Sunday at about 5 p.m.
After a weekend manhunt that spanned two states, Ibrahim was arrested by the State Police Fugitive Unit, Troop B TEAMS Unit and the Troop B Canine Unit. He is being held at the Atlantic County Jail on $3 million bail and will be charged in Hudson County, police said Monday.
Ibrahim’s prosecution will be handled by the Division of Criminal Justice under the State Attorney General’s Office, authorities said.
The bodies of the two victims — 25 and 27 years old — were found buried in a shallow grave at a private property in Buena Vista Township on Thursday, each with a single gunshot wound to the chest and their heads and hands severed from their bodies. The heads and hands were found at a separate burial site on the property, Calcagni said.
Calcagni said the identities of the victims will not be released because next of kin have not been identified and the men are foreign nationals. One of the men was last seen Feb. 3 and was reported missing Feb. 7, Calcagni said.
Lt. Col. Matthew Wilson said authorities believe Ibrahim knew the two men he is accused of killing. Ibrahim was also wanted out of Jersey City on an armed robbery warrant from September, Wilson said.
“We allege that the defendant was ruthless and calculating in the manner in which he carried out the killings and attempted to prevent identification of the victims,” Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa said in a news release.
State Police Lt. Col. Edward Cetnar, deputy superintendent of operations, and Wilson credited the old fashioned police work of several troopers and detectives at the State Police Buena Vista Barracks that responded to a report of suspicious activity on Thursday at the Harding Highway home.
On Sunday afternoon, the home appeared to be empty and neighbors in the area said there had been no one there for some time.
Although authorities would not confirm Monday if Ibrahim has a connection to the area or the owner of the home, according to property database records the property was sold to Hassan Mimi and T, K and M Ibrahim for $1 in 1995.
Upon arrival at the property, police obtained permission to search a wooded area behind the home where they and cadaver dogs found an area of disturbed dirt about 20 yards into the woods, authorities said.
After receiving a search warrant, the area was excavated and the men’s bodies were discovered and a short time later a State Police canine dog discovered the men’s heads and hands also buried.
“This all began with a report from a concerned resident at the Buena Vista barracks and these road troopers worked in the middle of a snow storm, going in and unearthing these graves and made the discovery,” Wilson said.
“None of this was easy. We had extreme weather, but we had multi-agency participation that came together,” he said.
Cetnar said troopers that responded to the scene Thursday night were able to see evidence of the crime in plain view.
“This is in an extremely rural area. They walked the property and made this discovery. In a matter of 48 hours, this investigation went from deep in southern New Jersey, to Philadelphia and then to North Jersey,” Cetnar said.
As the investigation progressed, police identified Ibrahim as the suspect and also learned that he was driving a white Mercedes Benz that belonged to one of the victims, a news release stated.
According to police, that same Mercedes Benz was located by police in Philadelphia, at 4110 Penns Grove Street, abandoned and set on fire.
“Philadelphia police officers observed Ibrahim sitting in the car trying to set it on fire,” Wilson said.
A pursuit ensued, but Ibrahim was not taken into custody and bi-state manhunt for him continued through the weekend until he was arrested on Sunday, Wilson said.
As far as a motive, Wilson said, that has not been determined yet, but called it a horrific crime.
“This is murder,” he said.
“I hope the capture and arrest of this man for these heinous crimes will provide closure to the families of the victims and put the community of Buena Vista Township at ease,” he said.
Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain said in a statement in the news release that he expressed his heartfelt sympathy for the families of the victims.
“Law enforcement agencies in this multi-state investigation cooperated to immediately protect our communities and rapidly solve this crime,” McClain said.
Staff Writer Lynda Cohen contributed to this report.
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