NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A former South Amboy, New Jersey woman was arrested in Florida Wednesday, and charged with killing her 5-year-old son more than two decades ago.
The boy, Timothy “Timmy” Wiltsey, was the subject of a frantic nationwide search after he was reported missing from a carnival in 1991. His partial remains were found the following year.
His mother — Michelle Lodzinski, 47 — was arrested on a warrant around 5:55 p.m. Thursday in Jensen Beach, Florida, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office. Lodzinski – now of Port St. Lucie, Florida – was charged after a grand jury in Middlesex County indicted her last week.
Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz sealed the indictment from public disclosure until the defendant was arrested, prosecutors said. Her bail was set at $2 million, and it was not immediately learned whether she would waive an extradition hearing and return to New Jersey.
The grand jury charged that Lodzinski “did purposely or knowingly kill Timothy Wiltsey, or did purposely or knowingly inflict serious bodily injury upon Timothy Wiltsey, resulting in his death,” prosecutors said.
On Saturday, May 25, 1991, Lodzinski – then a 23-year-old single mother – took her son to a carnival at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park in Sayreville, according to a Star-Ledger report. Lodzinski said after Timmy rode on a couple of rides, he became thirsty and asked for a soda, but he was gone when she walked to a concession stand and turned her back, the newspaper reported.
The carnival was shut down for a search for Timmy, but he was nowhere to be found, the newspaper reported.
Friends, neighbors and concerned residents mounted multiple searches in the months afterward, forming human rakes to sift through the South Amboy waterfront, CBS 2 reported at the time.
The search went nationwide, as 25,000 Conrail employees in 13 states received missing persons flyers on Timmy, and his face was even shown on the screen at the old Yankee Stadium.
Meanwhile, discrepancies in Lodzinski’s story led to police to become suspicious, as a woman standing next to Lodzinski at the carnival concession stand said she never said anything about her child being missing, and no one at the carnival saw a child matching Timmy’s description, the newspaper reported.
Police said Lodzinski later told them that Timmy had been taken away by two men – one of them with a knife – but later confessed that she had made up that story, prosecutors reported. She later allegedly claimed a woman and two men had taken Timmy, the newspaper reported.
Timmy’s partial remains were finally recovered on April 23, 1992, in a remote section of the Raritan Center industrial park in Edison, prosecutors said.
While she was never charged in Timmy’s death until Wednesday, Lodzinski did find herself in trouble with authorities two years after her son’s body was found.
According to a New York Times report, Lodzinski admitted to a U.S. District judge in 1994 that she made up a story about faking her own abduction to Detroit. She claimed she had been kidnapped by two intimidating FBI agents and driven to Michigan, but later admitted that she had gone there herself on a bus, the newspaper reported.
She was sentenced to six months’ house arrest in that case, according to the Star-Ledger.
Lodzinski also admitted to sealing a laptop computer from a former employer in 1997, and spent a day in jail for violating the terms of her probation in the faked abduction case a year later, the newspaper reported.
She later moved to Florida, then to Minnesota, and back to Florida again and had two more children, according to published reports.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey in a news release praised “the unceasingly vigilant efforts of numerous dedicated police officers who worked on the case over the years.” He also thanked Sayreville police, who have been involved in the case since Timmy was reported missing.
The investigation in the case continued as of Wednesday. Anyone with information was asked to call the Prosecutor’s office at (732) 745-2957 or leave an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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