MIDDLESEX COUNTY – Michelle Lodzinski, mother of Timothy Wiltsey, the 5-year-old boy reported missing from a carnival in 1991, was charged Wednesday with her son's murder.
Lodzinski, formerly of South Amboy, was arrested at about 6 p.m. in Florida and charged with killing her son, whose partial remains were found in 1992, 11 months after he was reported missing from a carnival in 1991, according to Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey and Sayreville Police Chief John J. Zebrowski.
Lodzinski had long been considered a suspect in her son's death, but charges were never filed against her until now. Her son's death is one of the most high-profile unsolved murder cases in Middlesex County.
Lodzinski, 47, was arrested after a grand jury in Middlesex County handed up a one-count indictment last Thursday charging her with murder. The indictment was sealed from the public by Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Bradley Ferencz, sitting in New Brunswick, until Lodzinski was arrested and notified of the charge.
Lodzinski, who lives in Port St. Lucie, Fla., was arrested while in Jensen Beach, Fla., by members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, Sayreville Police Department, Port St. Lucie Police Department and Martin County Sheriff's Department. She is being held at the Martin County Jail, Stuart, Fla., on $2 million bail. It was not immediately known if Lodzinski will waive her right to an extradition hearing and return to New Jersey.
"Following a routine, cold case review of the evidence and facts surrounding the disappearance and murder of Timothy Wiltsey, a new investigation was conducted and the matter was presented to the grand jury," Carey said.
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 ... ," the Prosecutor's Office said in a release.
The grand jury charged that Timothy, who was subject of an extensive search following his disappearance, was killed in South Amboy, Sayreville, Edison or some other municipality and that the death occurred sometime between May 25, 1991, when he was reported missing, and April 23, 1992, when his partial remains were recovered from a remote section of Raritan Center, an industrial park in Edison, the Prosecutor's Office said.
Lodzinski initially told police she was buying a soda for her son at the South Amboy Elks carnival at John F. Kennedy Park in Sayreville when he disappeared. The carnival was searched but Timothy was not located.
Timothy's disappearance sparked a nationwide manhunt involving the FBI, state, county and local police, as well as hundreds of volunteers. He was featured on "Americals Most Wanted," milk cartons featured his picture and New York Yankees star Don Mattingly pleaded for his safe return.
Timothy's disappearance became a murder investigation after a bird watcher found a child's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sneaker in a marshy area in Raritan Center. Officials have said they never had proof Timothhy was at the carnival, and Lodzinski gave different accounts of his disappearance. She failed at least one lie detector test, officials said.
Carey commended the vigilant efforts of numerous police officers who worked on the case over the years, and he thanked members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office and other law-enforcement agencies that were involved at various times, including the New Jersey State Police, the FBI, Port St. Lucie Police Department and the Martin County Sheriff's Department.
Carey said he was especially grateful to the Sayreville Police Department and the many officers who took part in the intensive investigation the department initiated when Timothy first was reported missing.
In May, during interviews for the 23rd anniversary of Timothy's disappearance, Sayreville police said the case had not been forgotten and continue to follow up on leads whenever they come in.