NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Remains found in Newark have been positively identified as belonging to a woman who was killed in Union Township last week, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said Monday.
April Wyckoff’s remains were found next to a branch of the Passaic River near a portion of Raymond Boulevard in Newark, authorities said. Her body was positively identified after an autopsy Monday morning.
Wyckoff’s car was discovered in Newark last week.
“We want to thank each of the departments that devoted manpower and resources to an exhaustive and widespread search conducted by air, land and sea during much of the last week,” Park said in a statement Monday. “The recovery of Ms. Wyckoff is not only significant for our investigation, but essential to bringing her family the closure they deserve.”
Authorities from multiple departments had been searching for the 43-year-old’s body since early last week when they charged her boyfriend, 43-year-old Matthew Ballister, with her murder, prosecutors said.
Investigators believe Wyckoff was killed sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday at Ballister’s home in Union Township.
As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, Ballister showed no emotion Monday as he appeared before a judge in a county jail courtroom. The judge explained the charges against him.
Ballister asked if his $2 million bail could be lowered. The judge said he would have to apply for a bail hearing.
“Well, he is going to enter a plea of not guilty,” said Steven Braun, a defense attorney who is temporarily filling in to represent Ballister. “That’s to be expected.”
Park said last week that 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.
Ballister’s mother, Eleanor Schofield, 70, is also charged with helping him cover up the crime by concealing evidence, prosecutors said. She is due in court Wednesday.
Wyckoff was the mother of two children and had recently moved into an apartment in Cranford.
Wyckoff’s mother, Diane Schenesky, told CBS 2 that her family lost hope when authorities told them the woman was beaten to death.
“She was a great person, a great mother and a wonderful daughter,” she said.
Prosecutors are asking for the public’s help and want to know if any witnesses saw Ballister in his 2005 Hummer in Newark last week.
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