NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – It was an attack that shocked the country.
A man was captured on a nanny cam breaking in and then brutally assaulting a mother inside of her Millburn, N.J. home, right in front of her 3-year-old daughter.
For days, police worked to identify a suspect with no luck, but on Friday they had a breakthrough. Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Millburn Police Chief Gregory Weber announced that warrants had been issued for the arrest of Shawn Custis, 42, whose last known residence was in Newark.
About an hour after that information was released, Custis was arrested along 10th Avenue in the Inwood section of Manhattan by FBI agents, CBS 2 reported.
Sources told CBS 2’s Alice Gainer that Custis was hiding out with his girlfriend and two kids in Newark, but that the girlfriend kicked him out of her house and called police after learning his face was being flashed all over the television in connection to the attack.
Police later pinged Custis’ cellphone and tracked him to the home of another girlfriend at 3738 10th Ave. in Inwood, where the arrest was made, Gainer reported. It is believed Custis took a train from Newark to New York City.
“I overheard one [FBI agent] saying they caught a bad guy and they were bringing him out,” one Inwood neighbor told CBS 2’s Don Champion. “So I was curious to see if it was anyone I would recognize.”
According to the daughter of the Inwood girlfriend, her mother had an order of protection against Custis because he had beaten her in the past. However, she apparently forgave him and allowed him to stay in the apartment. The daughter also said her mother doesn’t have a television so she didn’t have any idea the authorities were looking for Custis.
“First impression, I liked him, but then as I started getting to know him and I didn’t like him. And that’s all I am going to say,” the daughter said.
The girlfriend arrived at the building after the arrest and found out what happened, but was arrested as well, CBS 2 has learned.
Custis was eventually driven in a black SUV to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, which is handling the case. Once he arrived, Custis, accompanied by investigators, was confronted by CBS 2’s Christine Sloan, but did not comment.
The suspect allegedly broke into the victim’s home on Cypress Street in Millburn at around 10 a.m. on June 21. The victim was watching television with her 3-year-old, while a younger child was upstairs, police said. What followed was a stunning assault that included the suspect throwing the woman down a flight of stairs. The 3-year-old child is seen on video surveillance sitting still on the couch as the woman is repeatedly pummeled.
“I feel like my whole side of my face is gorged,” the victim said Monday. “If he could break down my door he could do this to anybody.”
Millburn Police Capt. Michael Palardy called the attack “one of the most brutal things I’ve seen in 25 years.”
The suspect fled with jewelry, including the woman’s wedding ring. The woman’s daughter and her 1-year-old son upstairs and were not hurt during the incident, police said.
Prosecutors announced that Custis was charged with first-degree attempted murder in connection with the attack. He was also charged with first-degree robbery, second-degree burglary and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
The Honorable Judge Thomas Moore, J.S.C., set bail at $750,000.
Custis has an extensive criminal history. His first burglary arrest happened in 2006. In 2009, he was arrested three more times, all in one month. Police took him into custody in March of 2011 but he was back on the streets by December 2012, CBS 2’s Champion reported.
Neighbors of his alleged victim in Millburn said they were relieved to learn of the arrest.
“It happened a half a block away from my house. It’s horrible. You don’t imagine something like this hitting so close to home,” Nick Romano said.
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