News

New Jersey Man Charged With Murder As Search Continues For Woman’s Body

Suspect's Mother Also Faces Charges

UNION TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A New Jersey man has been charged with murder, even though authorities have not recovered the alleged victim’s body.

As CBS 2′s Christine Sloan reported, investigators believe Matthew Ballister, 43, killed April Wyckoff, also 43, inside his Union Township home sometime Tuesday evening, the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said. He has been charged with first-degree murder.

Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said a tip led authorities to the house. She would not discuss a motive.

“The evidence, we believe, shows murder by a method of blunt force trauma,” Park said.

Authorities are searching three counties for Wyckoff’s body. Park is asking the public if anyone saw Ballister in a 2005 Hummer on Tuesday or Wednesday in Jersey City, Newark or Union. They spent the day on Thursday combing the suspect’s home, CBS 2′s Don Champion reported.

“We’ve charged Mr. Ballister, so the case will proceed with or without the body,” she said. “But we would really like to recover that body.”

Eleanor Schofield & Matthew Ballister III (credit: Union County Prosecutor's Office)

Eleanor Schofield & Matthew Ballister III (credit: Union County Prosecutor’s Office)

Ballister is being held on $2 million bail. He is expected to make his first court appearance next week.

His mother, Eleanor Schofield, is accused of interfering with the investigation by trying to help Ballister conceal evidence of the crime, prosecutors said. She is being held on $1,500 bail.

Wyckoff is the mother of two children, had recently moved into an apartment in Cranford and worked in the corporate offices of Bed Bath & Beyond. Her former father-in-law told CBS 2 she got mixed up with a bad person in Ballister.

But Ballister’s neighbors told Sloan they didn’t think he was capable of murder.

“What he’s been accused of is very out of character for him,” a man told Sloan.

“He’s always been a very nice neighbor,” said the man’s wife. “And he’s always been very nice to our daughter.”

Next door neighbor Kevin Canaan has lived next to Ballister for years.

“We’ve actually been living next to him for 5 years and ain’t ever really seen anything like this,” he said.

Detectives also spoke with residents in Wyckof’s Cranford neighborhood.

They asked a few questions. Nothing very specific, just asked if I had noticed anything going on,” Fernando Camacho said.

Anyone with information about Wyckoff’s alleged death, or anyone who may have had contact with Ballister or Schofield anytime between Tuesday night and Wednesday night, is being urged to contact Union County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Robert Henderson at 908-527-4126 or 908-347-2686.

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