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Saturday, May 1, 2010

[NJ] Corrections couple ambushed, Officer Laughfiel Nicholson murdered, Officer wife JoAnne wounded and afraid

...Hundreds of fellow corrections officers jammed the Campbell Funeral Chapel to attend the wake for officer Laughfiel Nicholson Jr., slain April 21 after a nasty court fight over child support between his new wife [Corrections Officer] JoAnn and her ex-boyfriend Ralph Johnson... JoAnn didn’t attend the wake... since she left the hospital this week following treatment of bullet wounds, she has not returned to live in her home on Parkinson Avenue, for fear of what Johnson supporters might do...“My corrections officers are hurting right now, and they’re hurting because an officer they loved is dead. And his wife is critically injured... All they see in the newspapers is what a great guy Ralph Johnson is — the guy who shot them”...

The Trentonian
By L.A. Parker & Paul Mickle
Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
[Excerpts] HAMILTON — A one-eyed tow truck driver who killed his ex-wife’s husband and wounded the ex — both New Jersey corrections officers — committed suicide hours later at his grandfather’s grave as cops were closing in Wednesday, authorities said. Ralph Johnson, 60, suspected in the 16-shot ambush at 5 a.m. outside the Parkinson Avenue home of victims Laughfiel and Joanne Nicholson, shot himself in the head at Ewing Cemetery... Associates of Johnson, who lived two houses away from the victims, said he angrily spoke Monday about losing a child-support case to the former wife and threatened to take out both the 49-year-old ex, who survived a bullet to the arm, and her 47-year-old husband... Mercer County Prosecutor Joe Bocchini said the suspect lay in wait for the couple and ambushed them with a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun after they got into their SUV. Laughfiel died in the SUV and the wife, who was wearing a correctional officer’s vest that isn’t bulletproof, took a bullet in the left arm and was reported in stable condition after surgery at Trenton’s Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where she was joined by daughters ages 15 and 21... Johnson, who lived two doors away on the same side of Parkinson as his targets, fled the area after the gunning... Bocchini confirmed word on the street that Johnson was disgruntled because a Mercer judge ordered him to pay more in child support for the 15-year-old daughter the suspect had with the longtime girlfriend... Johnson’s friends said he blew up in court, threatening to kill the judge and others, when he heard the unfavorable ruling... Kruty, Johnson’s boss, and neighbors on Parkinson told The Trentonian the court ruling only compounded his anger at the Nicholsons, who were said to sometimes taunt the trucker about about losing the woman... Said Bocchini: “We’re talking about a mother with a new husband who live two doors down. That is a recipe for confrontation”... Johnson and Joanne had a tumultuous history, said Assistant Mercer Prosecutor Angelo Onofri: “It was a mess. A lot of things were going on”... [Full article here]

Alexander Zdan
April 21, 2010
[Excerpts] ...Joann Nicholson was listed in stable condition late today, and family members said she was expected to fully recover from her wounds. [Ralph] Johnson is Joann Nicholson's ex-boyfriend and the two have a teenage daughter together. Prosecutors say Johnson had been involved in an ongoing family court dispute with his former wife. Their teenage daughter apparently called 911 after hearing the shots... Authorities found 16 bullet casings at the scene of the shooting and Laughfiel Nicholson, and Joann Nicholson were shot multiple times, authorities said. Joanne Nicholson, a corrections officer for 15 years, was shot three times and remains hospitalized. Nicholson Jr., who died shortly after the shooting, was a 10-year-veteran of the office. [Full article here]


The Trentonian
By Joe D'aquila
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
[Excerpts] ...Numerous sources have said that [Ralph] Johnson made threats of violence as he left court that night, possibly threatening to kill a judge... Officials did note that a friend of Johnson’s called Hamilton Police after the court case. The friend, concerned about Johnson’s demeanor after the appearance, asked that officers check in on him at his home. Officials said police did go to Johnson’s house that night, but no one was home. Police sources also said that Trenton officers were made aware of the threats and told to be on the lookout for Johnson that night due to the potential for violence. Those claims, however, could not be confirmed... [Full article here]

Laughfiel Nicholson Jr., affectionately known as "Nick" of Hamilton passed away on Wednesday, April 21, 2010. He was 47... He was employed as a correctional officer by Burlington County Detention Center from 1996 to 1998. He later worked for the State of New Jersey, Department of Corrections until his passing. Laughfiel is survived by his wife, JoAnn Nicholson; his parents... mother-in-law... two children... three step-children... one step-granddaughter... two sisters... one daughter-in-law... five brothers-in-law... five sisters-in-law... and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and long-time friends... [LINK]

The Trentonian
Friday, April 23, 2010
[Excerpts] ...About 27 years ago, [Ralph] Johnson’s first wife, Christine Barlow, walked out, leaving her husband with a brood of children. “I don’t know where she is,” said Johnson’s daughter, Sharlene. Barlow left Johnson with four kids, including a 5-year-old cancer stricken son, Ralph Johnson Jr. “My father took care of his family. He provided for us and we had a good life,” she said. Johnson worked hard to move his family out of Trenton’s Donnelly Homes project to a nice house on Parkinson Avenue... Johnson had eight children, including 15-year-old Chelsea, a daughter he shared with Joanne Nicholson... [Full article here]

The Trentonian
Published: Friday, April 23, 2010
[Excerpts] Ralph Johnson Jr. remains an anguished man. His father killed himself in Ewing Cemetery on Wednesday after shooting his ex-girlfriend and killing her husband, and Ralph Jr. blames the court system for failing to do justice by his father in the child support nightmare they were involved in. Cut down early that morning in an ambush barrage of 16 bullets were two prison guards, Laughfiel and Joanne Nicholson — Laughfiel dead, his wife Joanne surviving a bullet in the arm — as they sat in the SUV before heading for work... “They said it was a crime of passion, but my dad and that woman (Joanne) were never married,” said Ralph Jr., 33, an auto transporter. “The reason it happened was because the Mercer County judicial system kept screwing my dad over”... His son said the Nicholsons, both corrections officers, had moved in only a few doors away from his dad on Parkinson Avenue and harassed him by flashing their guns. “He kept going down there (to the court), crying for help, telling them how these corrections officers were harassing him, and they were supposed to be bigger than that, the husband flashing his gun at my dad every day,” Ralph Jr. said. “That type of stuff shouldn’t have happened. There should have been a change of venue, to Burlington or Monmouth County, due to a conflict of interest... She got family down there in the clerk’s office”... He charged that when Ralph Sr. tried to get a restraining order against her, a judge wouldn’t issue one. “They wanted to protect the (guard’s) badge; if she had a restraining order against her... she might not have been able to keep her badge. ‘That would jeopardize her job.’ So they protected the badge... Now maybe they’ll look at the fact that maybe you should have given my dad that restraining order, and it could have saved two lives, four families and a whole city grief! One piece of paper would have changed this whole thing ... All that (anger) could have been avoided, but the court system — nobody wanted to listen. All they wanted to do was protect the badge... It shouldn’t work like that... That’s not justice. That’s injustice. The judge should have looked past that. This lady was a very vindictive person, pushing buttons... My dad is the world to me... When people ask me about my dad, my dad stands next to God. To me, there is no one greater... My father was a really great dude. If you needed the shirt off his back, he’d give it to you.” At the end, the 60-year-old tow-truck driver who was well-regarded throughout the city, “lived with my sister, my niece and his new wife,” said Ralph Jr. He had raised all his children. Stood tall... Ralph Jr. said years ago, his father had wanted to marry Joanne, “and she ruined it by cheatin’ on him, and she married the guy that she cheated on my dad with, ’cause she thought the grass was greener on the other side. She changed her seat on the bus. ... And then, why would you move three doors down the street and start all this stuff? That’s just childish.” And now both men are dead. “My dad was a soldier, man,” Junior said. “My dad will be standing next to God. He won’t be looking up at God; he’ll be standing right next to Him, shoulder to shoulder, watching people coming through the gates.” [Full article here]

The Trentonian
Saturday, April 24, 2010
[Excerpts] “My corrections officers are hurting right now, and they’re hurting because an officer they loved is dead. And his wife is critically injured. That’s where the tragedy is.” And Greg Kelley, president of Corrections Officers PBA Local 105, added, “All they see in the newspapers is what a great guy Ralph Johnson is — the guy who shot them.” Johnson, 60, ambushed guards Laughfiel and Joanne Nicholson on Wednesday morning as they sat in their SUV about to go to work at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton, killing Laughfiel and wounding Joanne. Then he killed himself at his family plot in Ewing Cemetery... Greg Kelley said Joanne Davis was a guard at the prison before Laughfiel signed on nine or 10 years ago. He called Laughfiel “a consummate corrections officer.” And he said Joanne was the same way: “well-respected by her peers.” They’ve only been married a year or so... Kelley said Joanne was well-respected by her peers and the supervisory staff... “The only thing I can speak to is that as the president of the union for corrections officer, I know those two people were good people, too. I don’t know the circumstances of all that happened. All I saw was the aftermath. And all our officers are hurting right now. “They’re saying, ‘What about the victims?’ There’s victims all over. There’s a dead officer, a dead man who took his own life, there’s a child without a father and a stepfather. Her mother is traumatized, still in the hospital recovering from wounds.” And Laughfiel -- he’s a hero, Kelley said. “From what I understood, that day when the shooting started, he immediately went on top of her. That was his instinct, to protect her. And I think that’s why he sustained so many gunshots. “He didn’t deserve to die. She didn’t deserve to be shot.” Kelley said they both had other children, and parents that are grieving. Kelley said the union asked Gov. Christie on Friday for permission to fly flags at half-mast at state institutions, but he hadn’t responded. “We always mourn our’s,” he said. “We have a very dangerous and thankless job to do, and we just want some recognition of those who put their life on the line for the citizens of New Jersey. Right now my officers are hurt and they’re angry. Right now, I have two law enforcement officers that were shot, and regardless of the personal situations, one didn’t deserve to get killed, and the other didn’t deserve to get wounded. There’s no winners -- nothing but losers in this situation.” [Full article here]

The Trentonian
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
[Excerpts] Ralph “Butch” Johnson, who shot his ex-girlfriend’s husband to death before killing himself, was laid to rest yesterday in one of the most colorful funerals in city history, complete with many classic cars of the type he was known for restoring. Dozens of tearful friends and relatives of the popular trucker and race car driver spoke fondly of Johnson as the parade of shiny race cars, hotrods and tow trucks joined the long funeral procession. Johnson, 60, shot and wounded his ex, Corrections Officer Joanne Nicholson, and killed her husband, another corrections officer named Laughfiel Nicholson, on April 21 in a 16-shot ambush... Hours after the dawn shooting, Johnson took the same 9mm automatic he used on the Nicholsons to shoot himself in the head at his father’s grave in Ewing Cemetery just as cops were arriving to arrest him. Hundreds packed the Lighthouse Outreach Ministries on Bellevue Avenue for the funeral services despite a violent end to his life.... [Full article here]

The Trentonian
Friday, April 30, 2010
[Excerpts] Hundreds of fellow corrections officers jammed the Campbell Funeral Chapel last evening to attend the wake for officer Laughfiel Nicholson Jr., slain April 21 after a nasty court fight over child support between his new wife JoAnn and her ex-boyfriend Ralph Johnson... Gregory Kelley, president of Corrections Officers Local 105, said JoAnn didn’t attend the wake. And he said that since she left the hospital this week following treatment of bullet wounds, she has not returned to live in her home on Parkinson Avenue, for fear of what Johnson supporters might do. Kelley looked over the turnout, with officers from as far away as Delaware and Maryland in attendance, and said, “I think this is about the real victims. And let’s stop the venom. We’re devastated.” Laughfiel’s best friend, John Cotten, 53, of Browns Mills, called him “Nick.” He has known him for 20 years. “Nick is godfather to my youngest, John Cotten Jr., who is 14,” Cotten said... Cotten said his friend hadn’t been in fear of Ralph Johnson because of the dispute. “But he was concerned, as opposed to being in fear. Someone scratched his Nissan Maxima. He would get it fixed, but every time, it would be scratched again. We knew who it was. The police were called several times.” There was just no way to prove it... Corrections Officer and friend Anthony LeGore was a military man like Nicholson. “He was a quiet guy, a nice guy...”... [Full article here]
[police officer involved domestic violence oidv intimate partner violence (IPV) abuse law enforcement public safety fatality fatalities lethal murder new jersey state suicide murder-suicide divorce]

1 comment:

  1. The most vicious comments around the internet I have ever seen.

    My heart goes out to everyone hurt by this.


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