Murder arrest in case of missing Pemberton man found dead in Pinelands
RAW VIDEO: State Police join Jackson Township, State Parks and Ocean County investigators as area where skeletal remains were is examined in the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management area off South Stump Tavern Road. THOMAS P. COSTELLO
PEMBERTON TWP. – A 20-year-old man who vanished last year has been found dead and his alleged killer is in custody, authorities said Monday.
The victim, Cody MacPherson, was stabbed multiple times in a Pemberton Township home before his body was dumped in a wooded area of Jackson Township, Ocean County, in September 2017, according to an account provided by investigators.
Another Pemberton Township man, 27-year-old Alan McGinnis, is charged with his murder. Authorities did not disclose a motive or a relationship between the men.
MacPherson had recently moved from Portage, Indiana, to Browns Mills when he was reported missing Sept. 24, according to a statement from the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office.
His skeletal remains were found March 19 by a New Jersey Forest Fire Service employee at the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area.
The worker, Richard Byrne, was preparing for a controlled burn about 200 feet off South Stump Tavern Road “when he observed human remains under logs,” according to the statement.
“He then moved closer and noticed what he believed to be a human skull,” it said.
“Byrne then contacted his supervisor via radio and requested a suppression team to respond to put out the burn in the area to preserve the evidence,” it added.
Initial identification indicated the remains were likely those of MacPherson, and an autopsy one day later found the cause of death to be a stab wound to the abdomen.
Photographs and X-rays of the teeth showed dental work consistent with MacPherson’s records, and DNA analysis confirmed the identity on April 17.
The search for the missing man had drawn support on social media sites, including a GoFundMe account that raised $900 and a Facebook group, Find Cody MacPherson, with more than 1,500 members.
A May 2015 post at MacPherson's Facebook page showed him holding a newborn beside a young woman.
"The first day out of the hospital and the start to the rest of our lives," says a post under the photo.
"I remember the overwhelming emotions of happiness relief and being terrified," adds an accompanying post.
"In the hospital we had everything we needed. Then we were sent out with few things to do it all on our own," it continues. "Those few days in the hospital were the best days I've ever had."
Authorities contend McGinnis fatally stabbed MacPherson at a home on the 200 block of Pardee Boulevard in Pemberton Township, then put his body in the trunk of a vehicle and took it to the wildlife management area, which covers more than 12,900 acres in the Pinelands.
“McGinnis later traveled back to Pemberton where the scene was cleaned of visible blood and other evidence of the murder,” the account said. It alleged he returned to the wildlife area about a week later to destroy additional evidence.
The investigation also involved the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and New Jersey State Police.
Investigators raided two homes in Pemberton and Jackson townships around 6 a.m. Saturday, when New Jersey State Police charged McGinnis with murder and kidnapping.
He also is accused of improper disposal of human remains, destruction of evidence and weapons offenses.
McGinnis was being held Monday in Ocean County Jail.
Anyone with information should call Detective Brant Uricks of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-929-2027.
Jim Walsh: @jimwalsh_cp; 856-486-2646; firstname.lastname@example.org
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Police are searching for these missing people. The oldest case dates to 1961. The newest was reported a couple weeks ago. Wochit