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CBS 2 Exclusive: Experts Argue That N.J. Convict Didn’t Push Wife Off Cliff

From The Beginning, Stephen Scharf Has Categorically Denied Killing Jody Ann
Stephen Scharf

Stephen Scharf is serving a life sentence for pushing his wife off a cliff in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. — but he maintains his innocence. (Credit: CBS 2)

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TRENTON, N.J. (CBS 2) — Stephen Scharf is serving a life sentence for pushing his wife off a cliff, but he has maintained that he didn’t commit the crime.

And as CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported exclusively Tuesday, even some scientists are now questioning whether it was murder or a mistake.

It was the summer of 1992 when Scharf and his wife, Jody Ann, came to a spot near a cliff in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., to talk about their troubled marriage.

But within minutes, Jody Ann would fall 120 feet to her death.

The case remained a mystery for 16 years, until Stephen Scharf was convicted of pushing his wife off the edge. But he said emphatically that he didn’t do it.

Sloan: “Did you kill your wife?”

Scharf: “No ma’am.”

Sloan: “Did you throw her off of that cliff?”

Scharf: “Hell no. Come on, please.”

Sloan: “Did you push her?”

Scharf: “No ma’am.”

Speaking in his first television interview from New Jersey State Prison, Stephen Scharf said he believes new calculations from several scientists will prove he did not kill his wife.

“I am innocent of this,” he said.

He maintained that his wife slipped and fell off the cliffs at Rockefeller Lookout, as he walked away to get a blanket.

“As I turned around, she kind of did that — when you lose your balance, you that quick shuffle step — and that’s the last I saw her,” he said.

Physicist Jim Kellinger agreed that Stephen Scharf was not responsible for his wife’s death.

“I believe that he did not throw her off that cliff from that point,” Kellinger said.

Kellinger and two other people coming to Stephen Scharf’s defense said if Jody Ann had been pushed from the rocks, she would have landed closer to the base of the cliff. Instead, her body was found 52 feet out.

“If I push somebody, they’re only going to go a few feet per second,” Kellinger said.

But Kellinger said Jody Ann was moving a lot faster, which he claimed pointed either to a suicide or confirmed Stephen Scharf’s version of what happened.

“It could have been she stumbled and fell forward, and tried to right herself, and went off the cliff that way,” Kellinger said.

But Walter Siri, a patrolman on the case 20 years ago, discounted the new findings.

“His story changed many times,” Siri said. “They were sitting together at the cliff, she stood up and fell. They were walking, and he told me she slipped, and he didn’t see her anymore.”

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office also discounted the findings.

“I don’t think there was enough room for her to shuffle her way in to fall, to obtain the speed that they’re saying she obtained,” Siri said.

When asked how many affairs he had while married to Jody Ann, Stephen estimated it at 20. Investigators said that was why he wanted his wife out of the way.

But Stephen Scharf, 62, said affairs don’t make him a killer. He said he will not stop until he gets out.

He said he is planning on appealing the case, and thus, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment. Jody Ann Scharf’s friends and family also declined comment.

What do you think about the scientists’ findings? Leave your comments below…