Maplewood police amp up presence after home invasion, sexual assault

MAPLEWOOD, NJ — At approximately 8 p.m. on Oct. 16, Maplewood Police Chief Jimmy DeVaul released a statement saying that there would be increased police presence in Maplewood as part of an “active criminal investigation,” but did not elaborate any of the details. The following morning, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office released a statement saying that on Oct. 16 an unknown man had forced his way into a Maplewood woman’s home and had sexually assaulted her.

According to the second release, “the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit and the Maplewood Police Department are investigating a home invasion, sexual assault of a young woman.”

According to reports, the woman first encountered the man at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Oct. 16. The preliminary investigation indicates that he followed her home, forced his way into her house and sexually assaulted her. ECPO spokeswoman Katherine Carter told the News-Record that law enforcement is not yet releasing information about where specifically in Maplewood the assault occurred.

She was transported to an area hospital, where she was treated and released.

The suspect remains at large.

“Until further notice, the Maplewood police will have addition personnel assigned to ensure the safety of our community,” DeVaul said Oct. 16. “The Maplewood police will provide a minimum of daily updates on the investigation as it proceeds and information becomes available.”

In addition to Maplewood having a stepped-up police presence throughout the town, DeVaul also advised residents to remain vigilant.

“Residents are asked to call 9-1-1 to report any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity,” DeVaul wrote. “Residents should be aware of their surroundings, especially if walking alone, and not provide personal information to strangers. Do not open your door to strangers; talk through an open window if you have to. Call 9-1-1 immediately if possibly being followed. Parents are asked to have conversations with their children on safety and instruct them to call 9-1-1 first in the event of an emergency.”

This investigation is active and ongoing. Additional information will be released as it becomes available. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force at 1-877-847-7432.