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Essex County Sheriff’s Office


April 5, 2018

Contact: Sheriff Armando Fontoura (973) 621-4105

Newark – Despite the overwhelming statistical evidence that shows Weequahic Park to be among the safest recreational facilities in New Jersey, there has been some concern from local residents and park patrons regarding the recent discovery of three non-criminal deaths at that location.

“On March 3rd, our Patrol Division officers were alerted to an object floating in Weequahic Lake,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura stated.  “That object turned out to be the body of a female who had apparently been in the water for some time.  In further investigating this incident our officers also discovered another body, that of a male victim, who had also been in the lake for an extended period of time.  There were no signs of foul play or blunt force trauma associated with either victim and our Prosecutor’s Office awaits toxicology reports on both victims.”

A third body, that of a male victim, was discovered at the park on Wednesday in the woods near the Route 22 service road.

Preliminarily, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office has determined that this also appears to be a non-criminal incident.

“As is well noted, our entire nation is under siege from an opioid crisis as well as a mental health crisis,” Sheriff Fontoura noted.  “Persons addicted to narcotics are likely to overdose at any time, at any place.  Persons with psychological problems who are also opioid abusers unwittingly or wittingly contribute to their own demise.”

With the exception of four minor incidents which include two altercations the most glaring offenses at Weequahic Park appear to be violations of county ordinances, including curfew violation, playing loud music and dog off leash.

“Our department and the Newark Police Division diligently monitor and jointly patrol all activity at Weequahic Park on a 24/7/365 basis which is one of the jewels in our Essex County park system,” the Sheriff concluded.  “The facility comprises 22 acres of parkland.  Our efforts are augmented by our Patrol Division, our K-9 Unit, our Bomb Squad, our Bureau of Narcotics and our Deputy Division.  Many areas of the park are densely wooded which limits precise visual inspections.  As visible as our officers are at this location it is physically and economically impossible to have a uniformed officer at every location on a full-time basis.  These recent non-criminal incidents which exhibit no foul play should not be a concern by our residents or by park patrons who whose daily numbers are in the thousands or by golfers whose daily numbers are in the hundreds.”