(June 28, 2013)--Following a hearing today, Superior Court Judge Walter L. Marshall Jr. found probable cause to hold Valerie G. Niessner (DOB 2/12/66), of Sewell NJ on all charges filed in connection with the murder of 54-year-old Joseph McConnell in his Franklinville NJ home, where his body was found on 3/31/13.
Niessner and three codefendants remain jailed in default of bail on charges of murder, robbery, criminal restraint, aggravated assault and burglary. Neissner’s bail is $1 million.
In the probable cause hearing requested by Niessner’s attorney, Senior Assistant Gloucester County Prosecutor presented the testimony of Det. Harry Castaner of the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office major crimes unit, who related details of a 4/4/13 interview with Neissner codefendant and her niece, Amanda Rickerd (11/21/94), of Mantua Township NJ.
Castaner said Rickerd described an agreement on 3/30/13 among the four codefendants “to rob Joseph McConnell of some money he had in the house.” The detective said Rickerd told him all four drove to the victim’s house together, with Niessner driving. They had plastic zip ties and duct tape, according to Rickerd.
When he arrived at the McConnell home on Main Rd. on 3/31, Castaner said he found the front door of the house kicked in, a charred telephone in a fireplace, an empty gray safe with the door broken off and “copious amounts of blood” in the living room and kitchen floors.
The detective said McConnell was found face-down in a bathroom of the house, his hands tied behind him with zip-ties. He was dead. An autopsy determined the cause of death was positional asphyxiation, Castaner said.
While defense attorney Ronald Appleby said the criminal complaints against Niessner were “confusingly-written” and were based principally on the Rickerd statement, Assistant Prosecutor Curwin said there was “clearly an agreement” to rob McConnell that was “known to all of the participants.”
“Each participant had a role in it,” Curwin said.
Judge Marshall ruled the prosecution had met its burden of proof at this stage of the proceedings to establish probable cause for the charges against Neissner.
Also charged in the case is Jon O. Nordberg (DOB 6/5/72), of Vineland NJ, a friend of the victim, and Nordberg friend David J. Buss (DOB 6/2/79), of Glassboro NJ. Niessner was a girlfriend of Nordberg.