I am slowly realizing my current hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey is quickly becoming Murder City, USA. Yesterday, I discovered the going street price of a life in Jersey City is $6.66 as the murdered bodies of a woman and her two children — a boy aged six and a girl aged 13 — were found stabbed to death in a Greenville apartment. They died Monday.

The crime wasn’t reported until yesterday because the fourth victim — an eight-year-old boy who had been stabbed 10 times along with the rest of his family — only regained consciousness long enough to dial 911 before passing out again.

He is currently in surgery in critical condition. The police believe there was an argument with another family member over the need for $20. The family left North Carolina 20 days ago to start a new life in Jersey City. Now, instead of buying new school clothes for the children, relatives are left to shop for gravestones.

This is the second wholesale “death by puncturing” of an entire family in Jersey City this year. In January, an Egyptian Coptic family of four found death via stabbing after being robbed by a tenant renting a room in their home.

That family lived a block away from me and today there is still a shrine of fresh flowers pocking the chain-link fence surrounding their home. To put the point on a tragic day in Jersey City, yesterday at 3:00 pm, a man with a grenade, a gun and a knife held a jewelry store owner hostage after a botched robbery attempt near the Journal Square PATH train station. The man gave up after a seven hour stand off when the police threatened to send in two police dogs to drag him out alive.

The man claimed he gave up because he didn’t want to hurt the animals in a fire fight. We are in for a reckoning of human magnitude across the scope of our existence because, as the world becomes smaller and living is deeply discounted, we are all reminded, like it or not, that life is cheap. Murders and killings are not unique to Jersey City.

Unfathomable deaths by cruelty happen in small towns and villages every day. The difference today between what we have and how it used to be is the change in the magnitude of the murders. Crime scenes are now bathed in blood pools instead of sprinkled with simple blood spatter. Rage increases the death ratio beyond the aggrieved and into ending the lives of innocent children.

Death by a shared bloodline is impossible to prevent or police. The only thing left for the living is to weep for the children who lost tomorrow.

30 Comments

  1. Hi Karvain —
    Nice to see you again.
    I hear one of the detectives at the scene of the murder said, “Jersey City is now defined by death” as he surveyed the gruesome apartment of the murdered family. It is tough for a city to be known more for its killings than for its successes in living.

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  2. Hi Carla —
    You are right about living dangerously. It was never our intention to live in such a den of violence. Jersey City was a town on the way up when we arrived four years ago. Then 9/11 hit and the economy took a dump and new building projects were idled.
    The national economy is still bad and it will continue to get worse so things may not get better here soon.
    The reason whole families are killed is so no witnesses are left behind but it doesn’t work out that way in the end. The murders yesterday had street surveillance cameras that will likely lead to a quick arrest while the Coptic family killed up the street from us had a murderer who used the father’s credit card at an ATM and his face was recorded on a camera.
    When killing becomes that easy and nonchalant, I think the problem is deeper than just Jersey City and suggests a viral, national, throbbing that will shake community cores near and afar. The fact that everyone is packed so tightly together here on the East Coast makes instant neighbors and quick enemies and bad news always spreads faster than good.
    Janna said we need to find a way out of here and I understand her concern even though Jersey City is convenient and a well-connected transportation hub. We may move back to New York and settle in Forest Hills, Queens or some other gentler, kinder, neighborhood somewhere that will bring back some peace-of-mind.
    The reason we haven’t moved yet is we want to make sure the move will be right and not a repeat of what we’ve been experiencing just in a different Zip Code.
    We also secretly keep hoping things will turn around in Jersey City. We have a great apartment and a wonderful landlord here — two things you never find together on the East Coast — but we also don’t want misplaced loyalty to be the cause of our deaths.

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  3. I’m a newcomer to New Jersey since i’m a freshman at Princeton this fall, but I get the idea that Princeton bourough is somewhat sheltered compared to the wide world out there…but is the Jersey of the Sopranos any more true than the immaculate Jersey of Princeton? In orientation week a police officer spoke to us frosh about how close we are to “ooh scary” Trenton and it seemed like the wrong message to give, that we should be scared to leave campus. What do you think, Dave?

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  4. Hi Blair!
    Princeton is a jewel in a sea of mud and I will say the same thing about Fordham in the Bronx.
    The first lesson you need to learn is to never say you live or go to school in “New Jersey” unless someone tougher than you or poorer than you asks in a threatening way and then you need to say you go to “Rutgers” and live “on campus in New Brunswick.” Rutgers has more street cred than Princeton because it is a public state school.
    “Princetonians” quickly learn by birth or by being to answer when asked by those like them or above them “Where do you live or go to school?” with “Princeton.”
    The police officer was doing you a big, blunt, favor warning you away from places what would not likely welcome your pretty, pale, Princetonian face in a way you would appreciate.
    In addition to Trenton, I’d also stay away from Newark and Paterson as well for now — at least until you get your street smarts down and you know how to walk, talk and dress to fit in outside of Princeton: Hide your Princeton sweatshirt and tuck away your Princeton keychain. You don’t want to advertise your smarts or your privilege beyond Princeton — you need to turn all that off when you wander off campus — because you will quickly be identified as an icon for trifling or as a mark for the taking.
    STAY ON CAMPUS!

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  5. I live in a city next to Gary, Indiana.
    Gary was once the “Murder Capital” of the U.S. in the 1990s.
    I think in 1995 or so there were over 150 murders a year. This year we are “only” at 40 so far. A fairly high percentage are related to drugs. The other significant portion are domestic abuse cases.
    I think the lower murder rate may have to do with a better economy — more work means less time to kill, literally and figurative. There are many “help wanted” signs everywhere.
    Also, the police are using innovative technologies. In Chicago, the police have placed cameras and gun shot detectors. That has reduced crime. Gary PD has gun shot detectors in the Glen Park neighborhood that they use to triangulate and capture gun criminals. A budding gang war has quieted since the detectors were installed.
    Most of the murders are related to drugs. There were a lot of drug prosecutions in the early 2000s. It seems that locking up the bosses has slowed down the killings.
    Chicago has also been moving people from high rise slums to scatter site housing. People are integrated into middle class neighborhoods. That has lowered the crime rates. Also, Chicago has been saturating certain areas with tons of officers who arrest everyone doing anything bad.
    In our area, as Chicago goes, we go. I bet a lot of the criminals have been caught up in Chicago’s sweeps and are unable to kill because they are locked up.
    There are also a lot of DEA/FBI/state/city task forces out and about in NW Indiana rounding up the bad guys, including some bad cops. They keep busy and their efforts are showing.
    I wish Jersey City luck.
    Things can turn around with a lot of hard work from everybody.
    Don’t ever give up, despite how bad things seem at any given time.

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  6. I live in a city next to Gary, Indiana.
    Gary was once the “Murder Capital” of the U.S. in the 1990s.
    I think in 1995 or so there were over 150 murders a year. This year we are “only” at 40 so far. A fairly high percentage are related to drugs. The other significant portion are domestic abuse cases.
    I think the lower murder rate may have to do with a better economy — more work means less time to kill, literally and figurative. There are many “help wanted” signs everywhere.
    Also, the police are using innovative technologies. In Chicago, the police have placed cameras and gun shot detectors. That has reduced crime. Gary PD has gun shot detectors in the Glen Park neighborhood that they use to triangulate and capture gun criminals. A budding gang war has quieted since the detectors were installed.
    Most of the murders are related to drugs. There were a lot of drug prosecutions in the early 2000s. It seems that locking up the bosses has slowed down the killings.
    Chicago has also been moving people from high rise slums to scatter site housing. People are integrated into middle class neighborhoods. That has lowered the crime rates. Also, Chicago has been saturating certain areas with tons of officers who arrest everyone doing anything bad.
    In our area, as Chicago goes, we go. I bet a lot of the criminals have been caught up in Chicago’s sweeps and are unable to kill because they are locked up.
    There are also a lot of DEA/FBI/state/city task forces out and about in NW Indiana rounding up the bad guys, including some bad cops. They keep busy and their efforts are showing.
    I wish Jersey City luck.
    Things can turn around with a lot of hard work from everybody.
    Don’t ever give up, despite how bad things seem at any given time.

    Like

  7. Chris!
    What a beautiful and thoughtful message and completely on point on so many artful points about the state of our nation.
    Poverty and misery and drugs and not being a part of the political process are all important obstacles in trying to build everyone into the same political mosaic. When people feel out of the mainstream and disenfranchised, they create their own paths to success that many times go “unlawfully” against the vested interests of those in power.
    I agree we must welcome each other and help each other and offer our hands in service to pull each other upward and onward.

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  8. Chris!
    What a beautiful and thoughtful message and completely on point on so many artful points about the state of our nation.
    Poverty and misery and drugs and not being a part of the political process are all important obstacles in trying to build everyone into the same political mosaic. When people feel out of the mainstream and disenfranchised, they create their own paths to success that many times go “unlawfully” against the vested interests of those in power.
    I agree we must welcome each other and help each other and offer our hands in service to pull each other upward and onward.

    Like

  9. I don’t know much about Jersey although I had to go to Jersey for a wedding recently. Some of my boyfriend’s family is from there and well…it was interesting 😛

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  10. I don’t know much about Jersey although I had to go to Jersey for a wedding recently. Some of my boyfriend’s family is from there and well…it was interesting 😛

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  11. Hi Robin —
    Jersey is an interesting place. The opposites are vivid and aplenty. There are many parts of the state that are still farmland and are beautiful and quiet. It all depends where you choose to root home.

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  12. Hi Robin —
    Jersey is an interesting place. The opposites are vivid and aplenty. There are many parts of the state that are still farmland and are beautiful and quiet. It all depends where you choose to root home.

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  13. I’m just joking…it was lovely and his family from there is great. The wedding was a bit over-the-top but someone said that is a very Jersey wedding. I’d live there as long as I didn’t have to have the accent…I refuse to have the Boston accent either.

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  14. I’m just joking…it was lovely and his family from there is great. The wedding was a bit over-the-top but someone said that is a very Jersey wedding. I’d live there as long as I didn’t have to have the accent…I refuse to have the Boston accent either.

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  15. Be safe my friend!
    The cheapening of life these days has me so sad. Here in England recently, a youth killed a person while drunk. Some people that I know were actually arguing that he should get a more lenient sentence as he was intoxicated and thus not totally resposible. I had to leave the scene of the conversation to avoid being brought to physical violence myself.
    I live life on the extreme at times with my choice of sporting activities and such. I do this as a celebration of the gift of life itself. The fact that society at large is starting to give that gift the shaft more and more is disturbing to me.
    If it is not coming across, I am deeply troubled by these trends. I value life, all life. I may sound sappy, but the cheapening effect is really getting to me.
    You have a wonderful day me friend. And stay out of the crosshairs of those that do not value life!

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  16. Eban, my good friend!
    It is so great to see you back here again.
    Your interesting and passionate comments are always stirring and evergreen.
    You don’t sound sappy at all and I appreciate the tenderness of your caring heart as you fight against the violence by refusing to kowtow to its desires.

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