The F.B.I. Joins the Hunt for a Councilwoman’s Killer

SAYREVILLE, N.J. — In the week since a New Jersey councilwoman was shot to death in a car on the street outside her house, the police have interviewed friends and family members and enlisted the help of the State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

But the county prosecutor, speaking publicly on Wednesday for the first time about the case, said that the investigation into Eunice K. Dwumfour’s killing remained unsolved.

Hours later, hundreds of people gathered for a vigil in honor of Ms. Dwumfour, a 30-year-old Republican trailblazer, who was the first-ever Black person elected in the small borough of Sayreville.

She was remembered by the town’s Democratic mayor, Victoria Kilpatrick, for her radiant smile and willingness to be a role model to young girls.

Wearing “her signature, sparkling high heels,” Ms. Dwumfour “broke through that glass ceiling,” Ms. Kilpatrick told mourners.

Earlier in the day, the governor ordered flags to fly at half-staff statewide in Ms. Dwumfour’s memory. The state’s lieutenant governor, Sheila Y. Oliver, and the leader of the Assembly, Craig Coughlin, both Democrats, each spoke at the vigil, underscoring the deep sense of loss and shock felt over the mysterious killing.

Eunice DwumfourCredit…Sayreville Borough Council, via Associated Press

“Don’t forget what she packed into those 30 years,” Ms. Oliver told the large crowd gathered at EPIC, a nondenominational Christian church in Sayreville, adding that she identified with the grit that it took for Ms. Dwumfour to enter the often rough-and-tumble world of New Jersey politics as a Black woman.

She asked the community to embrace Ms. Dwumfour’s young daughter, Nicole, and “do all that we can do to help stand her up.”

A photo of Ms. Dwumfour dressed in festive wedding attire appeared on one of three large screens in the church as soft music played in the background. Ushers passed around boxes of tissues to emotional mourners.

“Hopefully the monster who was responsible for this will be found,” Mr. Coughlin said.

Ms Dwumfour’s family is from Ghana. But she was married last year to a leader of her church, Champions Royal Assembly, a congregation based in Nigeria, according to messages she and her husband, Eze Kings, posted on Facebook.

Yolanda Ciccone, the Middlesex County prosecutor, said that investigators do not “at this time” believe that the killing was tied to activities outside the United States.

“This is our No. 1 priority,” Ms. Ciccone said in an interview after an unrelated event. “There is no expense being spared. We have all of our detectives working on it.”

When asked by a reporter if the killing might have been a “political assassination,” Ms. Ciccone said, “I really don’t want to comment on that.”

The F.B.I. is helping investigators conduct scientific analysis, she said, but declined to elaborate. Ms. Ciccone also said that her office had blocked efforts by news organizations to obtain video footage from the night of the shooting out of respect for Ms. Dwumfour, who has not yet “been laid to rest.”

Ms. Dwumfour was shot at about 7:20 p.m. last Wednesday outside her apartment in Parlin, an unincorporated section of Sayreville. Her car rolled down the street and crashed into parked cars at the base of a hill.

The sprawling complex of three-story apartment buildings and duplex homes is known as Camelot at La Mer, and it backs up against the southbound lanes of the Garden State Parkway. The day after the shooting, investigators were seen searching a wooded hill near the shoulder of the parkway, which is accessible by foot from the neighborhood.

Other officers reached into shrubbery and beneath sewer grates near where Ms. Dwumfour was shot, in what appeared to be a search for a weapon.

Ms. Ciccone offered no information about a possible suspect, but she did say that there was no “ongoing threat to the community.”

“We will solve the case,” she added.

Many of the mourners Wednesday night said they were congregants from a Pentecostal church where Ms. Dwumfour worshiped as a child in Newark and from Champions Royal Assembly.

“She was a good girl,” said Grace Afful, of Hillside, N.J., who said she had known Ms. Dwumfour since the young woman was a child. “I’m pretty sure that the police will not relax until they find the person who did this horrible thing.”

Leave a Comment

] }