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Breaking news & local stories from Camden City, Berlin, Laurel Springs and more

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    Shawneeq M. Carter, of Camden, died in Woodbury.

    CAMDEN -- A funeral service for a woman killed while housesitting in Woodbury will be held Tuesday morning.

    Shawneeq M. Carter.jpgShawneeq M. Carter, 26, of Camden, was found murdered in a Woodbury home. (Facebook)
     

    Services for Shawneeq M. Carter, 26, of Camden, will take place at 11 a.m. at Parkside United Methodist Church in Camden.

    A period of meditation is planned for 9 to 11 a.m., according to her obituary.

    Carter was housesitting for a friend on Hopkins Street when she was killed.

    Investigators said she died of blunt force trauma. Her 5-year-old son found her body.

    She will be buried at Harleigh Cemetery.

    Family, friends, Woodbury residents and local faith leaders gathered on Hopkins Street for a vigil Thursday night.

    Anyone with information about Carter's death is asked to contact Detective Warren Rivell of the Gloucester County Prosecutor's Office at 856-384-5625 or Detective Carl Villone of the Woodbury City Police Department at 856-845-0065.

    Matt Gray may be reached at mgray@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattGraySJT. Find the South Jersey Times on Facebook.


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    Check out the top high school players from this past weekend.


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    A look at the remaining unbeaten teams in N.J. girls soccer.


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    See which players stood out in each of N.J.'s 15 conference this past week.


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    NJ Advance Media ranks all the counties with D1 women's soccer players.


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    Start making videos.

    It's time to settle all those backyard arguments: Who is N.J.'s best high school mascot?

    This is the official start of the NJ.com Mascot Challenge, a competition involving entire school communities, and, of course, mascots themselves, to determine which mascot is tops in the state.

    Nominations are now open. Here's how you nominate and how the whole thing works.

    1. Post a 30-60-second video on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #NJmascotchallenge. The video should be of your mascot doing its thing. Maybe it's spontaneous live action at a game, or maybe it's staged and carefully edited - maybe it's a combination. It's up to you. We will be watching #NJmascotchallenge and your video will become the nomination. Make sure you identify the school and the mascot in your post. Deadline for nominations is Monday, Oct. 23 at 10 a.m.

    IMPORTANT:
    • Students should get permission from the appropriate school official to make a nomination video.
    • Videos should be G-rated. Inappropriate content will disqualify a nomination.
     Safety first! Videos showing unsafe behavior will be disqualified.

    2. Nomination videos will be gathered together for a lightning round of voting, Oct. 23-26. The top finishers will be considered by our staff, who will name four finalists by Oct. 27. 

    3. NJ Advance Media will work with the finalist mascots and officials at their schools to schedule our own video crew to film each finalist. 

    4. Our videos of the finalists will be displayed for a final round of voting to determine N.J.'s best HS mascot. Dates to be determined.

    See additional details.

    So, mascots, do your thing and make those nomination videos!


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    The judge said the girl's "cognitive deficits" raise questions about whether she could consent.

    CAMDEN -- A former Willingboro High School student with disabilities can continue to sue the district after she claims she was sexually assaulted twice while a student there, a federal judge has ruled.

    The young woman, now 23, said the district failed to prevent or appropriately respond to the incidents, which occurred when she and male students were unsupervised in classrooms.

    While Judge Jerome B. Simandle did throw out one of the plaintiff's claims for damages in his decision Friday, he also ruled that she can continue to sue the Willingboro Board of Education under Title IX, the federal law that says schools must protect students from sexual harassment.

    The girl initially said at least one of the acts was consensual, but later claimed that neither act was consensual, according to Simandle's summary of the 2014 suit. Her lawsuit raises issues of whether she could legally consent because of her disabilities, which her attorney said include emotional and intellectual issues.

    Simandle seemed sympathetic to the point in his decision, stating that there is a "a genuine dispute as to whether plaintiff... had the capacity to welcome or consent to the sexual request" of the first boy, due partly to her "cognitive deficits."

    The girl's disabilities are believed to be due in part to fetal alcohol syndrome, the judge wrote.

    Racial bias case against school can go on

    Psychologist Victor J. Nitti Jr., who examined her in 2011, wrote in a report that her intellectual abilities were "borderline," her judgement was impaired, and she had significant emotional issues including depression and "loss of control," according to court documents. She also reported she felt like she was being watched and heard voices that no one else heard, the judge noted.

    According to the suit, the girl was 15 when she agreed to a request from a 17-year-old boy to perform a sexual act in an empty classroom on March 20, 2009.

    Various school staff found out about the incident over the following week, and the school's director of safety, security and attendance investigated along with police and determined it appeared to be consensual. Allegations that staff members delayed in reporting the incident in an attempt to cover it up were also investigated, but no evidence of a cover-up was found, the suit said.

    Within a month, the girl's guardians, James and Robbie Lockhart, notified the school they intended to sue because they felt staff had failed to prevent what they considered to be a sexual assault.

    Judge Simandle noted that while the girl initially told staff she agreed to the sexual conduct, the school provided no evidence that, after learning that she was alleging it was not consensual, it took action such as reopening the investigation or contacting police to speak with the girl.

    The suit claims that the school should have taken steps after the first alleged assault to increase supervision, among other things, which could have stopped the second incident.

    Starting in 2011, the lawsuit claims, another special education classmate began touching the girl's buttocks without her consent, including three alleged incidents that were observed by staff.

    In April of that year when the girl was 17, she went to the special services classroom during the lunch break to get her purse. There, she says in the suit, the boy grabbed and sexually assaulted her while she tried to push him away. A teacher entered and observed the incident, but staff again believed the incident to be consensual, according to the suit.

    The girl was suspended as a result of the incident.

    Simandle wrote that to prove the district violated Title IX, the plaintiffs would have to show that staff were aware of the harassment occurring while they were responsible for the students and showed "deliberate indifference" instead of responding appropriately.

    He said that is a legitimate question that should be decided at trial, since the school produced no evidence it did a thorough investigation after learning the girl and her family felt the incidents were not consensual.

    Also lending weight to the plaintiffs' claims that the school failed to protect her is the allegation that the second alleged assault occurred "following a pattern of sexual misbehavior toward her by the perpetrator that was observed by school personnel," Simandle wrote.

    A message seeking comment from Willingboro Public Schools Superintendent Ronald G. Taylor was not returned Tuesday.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Jason Lewis died last week from injuries he sustained Sept. 2 in the beating.

    WOODLYNNE -- A woman has been charged with beating her boyfriend to death with frying pans, authorities said. 

    Maleia Cole, 33, was charged Saturday with murder in the killing of 35-year-old Jason Lewis, the Camden County Prosecutor's Office announced Tuesday. 

    Lewis was found conscious, but with injuries to his head and face that left him bleeding and dizzy when police arrived at the Pantry One, a former market on Mount Ephraim Avenue in Woodlynne on Sept. 2, authorities said. 

    Lewis told officers that Cole had followed him across the street and into Pantry One, beating him with metal frying pans, authorities said. She fled to her home about a block away on the street, police said. 

    Lewis was taken to a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. He died more than three weeks later on Sept. 26, authorities said. 

    Cole was taken into custody Monday, and is being held in the Camden County Correctional Facility pending a detention hearing. 

    A funeral service will be held for Lewis Wednesday at 7 p.m. at May Funeral Home in Pennsauken. 

    Amanda Hoover can be reached at ahoover@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @amahoover. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Violent crime in New Jersey actually continued its steady decrease in 2016. Most cities and towns on this list saw a year-over-year decrease, while others shot up as much as 27 percent.


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    Locals hoping to head to Ireland will now have another option at PHL.

    PHILADELPHIA -- Irish airline Aer Lingus will begin offering non-stop flights between Philadelphia International Airport and Dublin in March 2018, the airport announced Wednesday.

    The flights will come and go from the airports on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday each week, according to a release from the airport.

    Aer Lingus Chief Operating Officer Mike Rutter has said that the airline wants to make its home city a "gateway" between the two continents.

    "We are proud to continue to deliver on our promise to grow our transatlantic network and further strengthen Dublin Airport as a leading gateway to North America," said in the release.

    Once in Dublin, Aer Lingus passengers from the Philadelphia area will be able to get connections to 21 airports across Europe and in Abu Dhabi, the release said.

    American Airlines already operates non-stop flights to Dublin from the Philadelphia airport.

    The airport already hosts five foreign airlines, including Icelandair, which began its direct service to Reykjavik in May, according to the release. It offers service to 37 international destinations total.

    Aer Lingus plans to land its first flight -- a B-757 -- in Philadelphia March 25, 2018.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    St. Peter's Prep vs. DePaul, Lenape vs. Rancocas Valley are among the 28 can't miss football games in Week 5, the weekend of Oct. 6-7, 2017


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    Changes continue all around the Top 20 this week.


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    The name change is the next step of a merger of the two health systems.

    CHERRY HILL -- The merger of Kennedy Health and Jefferson Health advanced a step further on Wednesday with the unveiling of new signage at Kennedy Health's campuses.

    Kennedy Health sites in Cherry Hill, Washington Township and Stratford will now be renamed to Jefferson Health and the logos will be changed accordingly. Kennedy CEO Joe Devine will take on the new title of president of Jefferson Health's New Jersey division.

    At a previous merger-celebration event, the heads of the two systems said Jefferson's presence would bring telehealth services and more clinical trials to South Jersey.

    Jefferson, based in Philadelphia, previously acquired Abington Health, Aria Health and Philadelphia University, some of several mergers and acquisitions in the region in recent years. The merger with Kennedy was made official last month after a letter of intent to merge was signed in January.

    Joe Brandt can be reached at jbrandt@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JBrandt_NJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Gloucester Township officer not seriously injured, cops say.

    GLOUCESTER TWP. -- A man fleeing a reported domestic incident Wednesday afternoon struck a responding officer and led police on a slow-speed chase before driving off the road and smashing into trees, a township police captain said.

    The pursuit ended near the intersection of Chews Landing Road and Orlando Drive after about a mile chase, Capt. Anthony Minosse said. He did not immediately report the location of the domestic incident.

    The officer, who was not identified, was not believed to be seriously injured, Minosse said. He was taken to a local hospital for evaluation. The driver was also evaluated at another hospital.

    Minosse said two counts of assault by auto charges are pending against the driver.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
     

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    The U.S. Department of Justice will grant $1.7 million to programs in the Garden State that officials said will be used to fight the state's opioid crisis.

     

    NEWARK -- Four programs in New Jersey have been awarded federal grants to fight the state's opioid epidemic, a crisis that has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people since 2012. 

    NJ Advance Media has learned that the State Parole Board will receive $600,000 to start a pilot program that would provide parolees with a history of opioid abuse anti-addiction medication for the first time.  

    The State Parole Board grant comes after the U.S. Department of Justice announced $1.1 million in grants to the Garden State last week to develop a data-sharing network between authorities and provide assistance to people in Camden County. 

    "Considering the severity and death toll of the heroin, and now the fentanyl crisis, it's incumbent on us to seriously examine every possible instrument that can lead individuals to recovery," said former Gov. James McGreevey, whose non-profit, NJ Reentry Corporation will partner with the State Parole Board. "The time for debate is over. To not offer every means of recovery is to do a disservice to those suffering from addiction in New Jersey."

    The Parole Board program will be unique because it will involve prescribing parolees in Ocean County medication assisted treatment, like Suboxone and Vivitrol. Medication assisted treatment has yielded promising results, but remains somewhat controversial because some view it as replacing a drug with another drug.  

    'F--- you opioids:' A funeral director's response to deadly epidemic

    The 36-month pilot program aims to reduce reoffending by adult parolees with a history of addiction by 25 percent in the three years. Officials called the program an additional device in the state's toolbox for fighting the opioid crisis. 

    "If somebody told me we would have heroin on every corner, in every county throughout the United States for as low as $3 a hit ... I mean, it's just mind-boggling," State Parole Board Chairman James Plousis said. "Never in my career in law enforcement did I think we'd get here."

    At least 1,901 people in New Jersey died from opioid overdoses last year, more than twice the number of people from the state who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Since 2013, deaths in the Garden State involving heroin have more than doubled while fentanyl-related deaths have spiked 2,000 percent.

    NJ Heroin, Fentanyl deaths 2016 copy

    In 2016, at least 64,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, an increase from 52,000 the year before, the Justice Department said. The majority of those deaths can be attributed to opioids, including illicit fentanyl.

    "Today, we are facing the deadliest drug crisis in American history," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said of deaths nationwide. "These trends are shocking and the numbers tell us a lot -- but they aren't just numbers. They represent moms and dads, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends."

    Three of the New Jersey-based opioid abuse programs received the funding as part of a $58.9 million effort from the Justice Department to address the nationwide emergency.

    Of that funding, the state Department of Law and Public Safety will receive $600,000 to collaborate with state agencies to develop a computerized, data-sharing dashboard that will leverage data on drug arrests, naloxone administrations and fatal and non-fatal overdoses, among other information. 

    Camden County was awarded $400,000 to implement an opioid abuse diversion program to improve treatment and support services for people with a history of opioid misuse, officials said. 

    And the law and public safety department was given another grant -- this one $100,000 -- to create what officials called a coordinated plan to assess how best to leverage resources and funding to expand programs and add another point of entry to treatment for people addicted to opioids.

    Doctors raked in cash to push fentanyl as N.J. death rate exploded

    In its pitch for the funding, the State Parole Board said of the people released from the criminal justice system, those who abuse illicit drugs are three times more likely to have their parole revoked. They are also twice as likely to be rearrested on a new charge.

    Parole officers working in the county will be recruited for voluntary participation. Some of their training will be provided by the New Jersey Reentry Corporation which will supply recovery coaches to support treatment plans and manage drug testing.

    McGreevey said it is necessary for the state to examine every possible tool that can lead to a person's recovery. In the last month alone, the former governor said he has attended seven wakes or funerals.

    "It's literally a march of death," he said.

    An NJ Advance Media investigation in 2015 revealed there were at least 128,000 people addicted to heroin or prescription opioids in New Jersey.

    Staff writer Stephen Stirling contributed to this report. 

    Luke Nozicka may be reached at lnozicka@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @lukenozicka.

    Find NJ.com on Facebook.


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    Which players have emerged as the leaders in statistics in boys soccer this year?


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    Photos we've snapped since 2010, and we want yours too.

    Some are adorable. Some are kind of scary. Some are a little puzzling. They're almost all fuzzy.

    These are New Jersey's high school mascots. The ones we've photographed since 2010 are in the photo gallery above, and, we know - we're a little heavy on cardinals, or Kardinals, as the case may be.


    RELATED: Nominations open for the NJ.com HS Mascot Challenge


    We know there are more out there than these for the 37 schools represented above, so we're looking for some help from you. When you're out there over the next few weeks enjoying some high school sports, scan the venue for something bigger, brighter and fuzzier than your typical athlete.

    When you find something, snap some pics and then use the form below to send them to us, and we'll add them to the photo gallery.

    And while you're at it, think about shooting some video, because a video is what's needed to nominate that mascot for the NJ.com HS Mascot Challenge. All the details about that project, including the Oct. 23 deadline for videos to be posted with the #NJmascotchallenge hashtag, are at the link above.


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    A 26-year-old Pennsauken man was killed in the incident.

    CAMDEN -- Two men are facing murder charges after a botched armed robbery left a Pennsauken man dead in his apartment, the Camden County Prosecutor said Wednesday.

    Danny Smith, 44, of Woodlynne and Damian Sanchez, 29, of Camden were both charged for fatally shooting Jerry Mass, 26, during an armed robbery on Sept. 9.

    Witnesses said Sanchez and another individual entered Mass' apartment on the 7000 block of Stockton Avenue, while Smith stood outside the common doorway. The victim was shot while the two men attempted to rob him, then fled out of the apartment and into a vehicle driven by Smith, authorities said.

    Authorities released a surveillance photo of a burgundy or red 2000 Buick Century with stock rims on Sept. 11. Officials believed the vehicle was involved in the shooting. 

    Smith was arrested 10 days later at his home in the 200 block of Parker Avenue in Woodlynne. Sanchez was arrested in Camden by the federal marshals. In addition to murder, he was charged Tuesday with armed robbery and weapons charges. Smith faces the same charges.

    Both were held in the Camden County Jail pending a court date.

    Bill Duhart may be reached at bduhart@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @bduhart. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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    The owner of the restaurants is hoping to fill 150 positions from cook to bartender.

    You may have heard that Applebee's is closing over 100 restaurants nationwide, but 17 locations in South Jersey are doing well enough to need more servers, cooks, bartenders and other employees.

    The chain is hosting a hiring event Monday at the South Jersey locations, plus six restaurants in Delaware, in hopes of filling a total of 150 positions, according to a press release from Apple American Group, the owner of the franchises.

    A full listing of the available positions at each restaurant is available here.

    The Applebee's Neighborhood Bar & Grill locations holding open interviews Monday are in Atlantic City, Audubon, Cherry Hill, Deptford, Hammonton, Mays Landing, Mount Laurel, Pennsville, Sicklerville, Somerdale, Somers Point, Swedesboro, Turnersville, Vineland, Voorhees, Westampton and Williamstown. 

    Open interviews will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Applying ahead of time is not necessary, but anyone who wishes to can do so at www.AppleAmericanCareers.com. Experience is preferred but not required, Apple American said.

    Rebecca Everett may be reached at reverett@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebeccajeverett. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

     

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    Where weird is a compliment.

    Ask someone who isn't from New Jersey what makes the state unique and you'll likely hear a litany of the same old cliches. Ask some who IS from the state, and you most likely will get a variant on this theme: we're unique because we don't mind being unique.

    "Weird NJ" began in 1989 as a personal newsletter sent to friends by Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman, pasted together on a kitchen table and run off on copiers. Today, it's a semi-annual magazine that spawned books about New Jersey as well as "Weird" coverage of Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Texas, California and New England. In 2005, there was a series on the History Channel starring the two Marks.

    MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

    This gallery offers something similar, though not the same. Here, we have culled together photos from some "unique" places that spot the state. We like that these places make us different from every other state in the union. We hope you do, too.

    Here's a gallery of some of the unique things in New Jersey. And, here are links to other galleries you might find interesting.

    Vintage N.J. photos that deserve a second look

    More vintage N.J. photos that deserve a second look

    Vintage scary photos from N.J.

    Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find Greg Hatala on Facebook.


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