A Monmouth County Jury has returned guilty verdicts on nearly all charges against the local man who murdered a longtime family friend a little more than three years ago and set her home on fire in an attempt to cover his tracks, Acting Monmouth County First Assistant Prosecutor Michael J. Wojciechowski announced Wednesday.
Following a month-long trial before Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley, 52-year-old Ronald J. Teschner was convicted of first-degree Murder, first-degree Felony Murder, first-degree Robbery, three first-degree weapons offenses, second-degree Aggravated Arson, second-degree Desecration of Human Remains, third-degree Aggravated Assault, third-degree Burglary, third-degree Robbery, three counts of third-degree Theft, a third-degree drug offense, and fourth-degree Resisting Arrest, all in connection with the death of 65-year-old Jacqueline C. Terrulli.
Shortly after 7:30 am on the morning of Thursday, September 12, 2019, firefighters and other first responders rushed to a home on Wickapecko Drive in Ocean Township that was fully engulfed in flames. Once the fire was put out, a joint investigation by members of the Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Bureau, the Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office, and the Ocean Township Police Department determined that two residents of the home were unaccounted for: Teschner and Terrulli, the homeowner. Terrulli’s vehicle, a white Jeep Cherokee, was also missing from the property.
The next morning, on Friday, September 13, 2019, members of the Ocean Township Police Department located the Cherokee parked on a residential street in Paterson, a little more than an hour’s drive north. Teschner was located in the driver’s seat, and recovered from the vehicle were two shotguns, a quantity of fentanyl, and jewelry and other items belonging to Terrulli.
Teschner remained lodged in the Monmouth County Correctional Institution (MCCI) following his arrest, and Murder charges were filed against him in December 2019. A Monmouth County Grand Jury then returned a 16-count indictment in the case in February 2020.
Later that year, on Thursday, June 18, 2020, as demolition and site remediation work was being performed on the Wickapecko Drive property, human remains that would later be identified as belonging to Terrulli were found wrapped in plastic and buried several feet underground. As a result of the fire, charred rubble had collapsed upon and covered the remains, initially concealing them from detection.
Teschner’s prosecution was handled by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Joseph Cummings and Katherine Butler, who presented evidence at trial including witness testimony, cell-phone records, and physical evidence showing that the murder took place while Terrulli’s mother and two siblings were away in Atlantic City.
“This was a genuinely monstrous crime, hallmarked by callous brutality – Jacqueline Terrulli welcomed the defendant into her home to live, and as a result of that charity, lost her life,” Wojciechowski said. “While this verdict can’t bring her back, we hope it offers some sense of solace to her family and friends, knowing that justice has been served.”
Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at which time Teschner will face a term of up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The Prosecutor’s Office would again like to sincerely thank the numerous agencies that participated in this investigation and/or the extensive search for Terrulli’s remains, including the Ocean Township Police Department, Paterson Police Department, Wayne Police Department, Monmouth County Fire Marshal’s Office, Monmouth County Public Works, Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office K9 Bomb Squad, Bloodhound, Regional Dive and Search Team, and Drone; Bergen County Sheriff’s Office K9, Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, a New Jersey Office of the Attorney General Division of Criminal Justice Recruit Class, New Jersey Turnpike Authority, New Jersey State Fire Marshal’s Office and K9 Accelerant Dog, New Jersey State Police K9 Cadaver Dog, Missing Persons Unit, Police Regional Operations Intelligence Center (ROIC), and Police Laboratory; New Jersey Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory, New Jersey Transit Police Dive Team and Police Boats, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Quantico Laboratory and Cellular Analysis Survey Team (CAST), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) K9 accelerant Dog, Critical Research Group, the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), and the University of North Texas.
Teschner was represented at trial by Anthony Aldorasi, Esq. and Lisa Maglone, Esq.