EDITOR'S NOTE: Graphic video shows a home invasion in Millburn where a man brutally beats a young mother while her 3-year-old watched.
Authorities are looking for 42-year-old Shawn Custis, charged in the home invasion robbery and beating of a Millburn mother caught on the family's nanny camera.Essex County Prosecutor's Office
MILLBURN — The man wanted in connection with last Friday’s home invasion and savage beating of a Millburn mother that was captured on a nanny cam and broadcast nationwide was arrested yesterday in Manhattan, authorities said.
Shawn Custis, 42, was captured by the FBI and detectives from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in the lobby of an apartment building on 10th Avenue less than an hour after authorities released his name and issued a warrant for his arrest, acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn Murraysaid.
Murray said investigators received "the biggest break" after severalNewark residents who had seen the video said they recognized Custis, a career criminal who was most recently released from prison in December.
The 10:30 a.m. attack last Friday sent shock waves through the nomally quiet suburban community, and prompted calls for tougher criminal penalties for home invasions.
"It was a horrific and brutal crime and detectives and the FBI did a really good job cooperating together to bring this individual to justice," saidAnthony Ambrose, chief of detectives for the prosecutor’s office.
Custis has been charged with first-degree attempted murder, due to the severity of the beating, as well as robbery, burglary and endangering the welfare of a child and was being transferred to the Essex County jail inNewark, Ambrose said. Superior Court Judge Thomas Moore set bail at $750,000.
Custis faces 10 to 20 years in prison if convicted on the attempted murdercharge and three to five years for the burglary charge.
The attack was captured on a hidden camera inside the woman’s Cypress Street home. A man is seen bursting into the home, then brutally assaulting the woman, punching her repeatedly, kicking her and pulling her by the hair as her 3-year-old daughter sits frozen on the living room couch, clutching a blanket. Another child, an 18-month-old boy, was alseep upstairs. Neither child was hurt.
The intruder goes upstairs three times, returning each time to continue beating the woman. He eventually throws her down the basement stairs before leaving through the front door.
There is an eerie silence during part of the video as the woman eventually stops screaming. She later told police she tried not to scream as to not upset her daughter.
The woman, whose name has not been released, agreed to release the video so the man could be caught before he attacked anyone else, police said. It has been broadcast on the internet and by news outlets across the country.
The woman is recovering from a number of non-life-threatening injuries — a concussion, chipped teeth, an injured lip, facial swelling and leg injuries. She did not break any bones, authorities have said.
Custis, whose last known address was on Irvine Turner Boulevard in Newark, has 12 felony convictions dating back to the early 1990s. He was most recently jailed in connection with a string of burglaries across New Jersey in March 2011 and served 10 months at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Cumberland County, according to court records. He was released in December.
In July 2006, Custis escaped from a state Department of Corrections halfway house and was later arrested for burglarizing more than 20 homes in Hamilton and Trenton, according to court documents.
In the wake of last Friday’s attack, residents in Millburn distributed fliers throughout the victim’s neighborhood and organized a community watch.
At the same time, Assemblyman Jon Bramnick (R-Union) introduced legislation in Trenton that would upgrade a home invasion from a third-degree crime to a second-degree crime. Second-degree crimes call for a five- to-10-year prison term, fines of up to $150,000, and stipulations that an inmate must serve at least 85 percent of their sentence, Bramnick’s office said. The bill also calls for prisoners convicted under the law to be ineligible for early release.
Luz Alvarado, a mother of two and a neighbor of the Millburn victim, said she has been gripped by fear since last Friday’s attack, so much so that she’s been avoiding a nearby park. News of an arrest brought Alvarado some relief last night.
"Hopefully, this doesn’t happen again, and hopefully there aren’t any other people like him," she said.
Millburn police Chief Gregory Weber said he was confident authorities have arrested the right person.
Star-Ledger staff writers Tomas Dinges, Ted Sherman and Vicky St. Martin contributed to this report.