JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — An arrest has been made in the alleged killing of a Jersey City mother.
Sources tell CBS 2 that Randy “Amanda” Lehrer’s husband, Steven Acuna, has been charged with her murder.
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Investigators have spoken with Lehrer’s parents and they were able to corroborate a tattoo on the body, but the DNA testing this weekend will prove the identity.
By Saturday afternoon, a makeshift memorial of candles, balloons and flowers had been set up in front of the apartment building where the 32-year-old lived with her husband and infant daughter.
Dozens of police spent the night at the Lehrer’s home after discovering remains inside the barrel filled with concrete.
The news was devastating, but friends say not entirely surprising to Lehrer’s family who have feared the worst since she went missing last month.
“They were tearful,” said friend Donna Scocco. “They knew, but they were surprised. You know, there’s no word that can describe that.”
Lehrer was reported missing by her husband, Stephen Acuna. The couple has an 11-month-old daughter, but friends say they fought often.
Police say Acuna waited three days after she was last seen to report his wife missing and told her co-workers she had gone to Canada to visit her ailing mother.
But investigators say the story didn’t check out and while police are not saying whether Acuna is a suspect, they have said from the start that he hasn’t been helpful.
“We have been delayed, because of a lack of cooperation on his part, has forced us to seek court orders, subpoenas and warrants to do our job,” Jersey City police chief Tom Comey said last month.
Police had not searched the couple’s basement until Friday and Saturday morning, there is sadness but also relief that there may finally be some answers.
“It was a second investigation. They went back in again and I guess they missed a few things and they got it and they found it and thank God. If it’s found, thank God,” another friend, Ivan Arroyo, said.
Eddie Kelly used to live upstairs from Lehrer and doesn’t understand why police hadn’t checked the basement until now.
“When she first came up missing, I assumed they checked the basement,” he said.
From day one, many neighbors suspected foul play and Lehrer’s husband.
“He wasn’t a nice person,” Kelly said. “He was always really aggressive.”
Paula Dempsey lives next door. She says Lehrer would never have left her infant daughter.
“There’s no way in hell she would have left the baby. Because the baby and her were like connected at the tip,” said Dempsey. “She used to sit outside on the porch and she would hold the baby. I knew there was no way in hell that she would just walk off. I even said that to the cop, I said you’re not going to find her alive.”
Neighbor Myrna Enriquez knew Lehrer from Tommie’s Diner, where she was a waitress.
“You never know, finding her in her own apartment. There are so many places that they could hide her,” said Enriquez. “She was a nice person.
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