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Suspect Arrested in Stabbing Death at Toms River Motel

Toms River Police have arrested a suspect in connection with an alleged kidnapping that ended in the grisly murder of a 31-year-old woman at the Americana Motel Sunday.

Steen Tarpley
Steen Tarpley (Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office)

Police arrested a suspect identified as Steen Tarpley, 48, of Seaside Heights on Sunday afternoon in connection with the alleged murder, which took place at the Americana Hotel, located at 925 Route 166. According to a statement on their Facebook page, Toms River Police say they were called to the motel at 1:24 p.m. for “an assault in progress.”

“Upon arrival, we located a 31-year-old female from Toms River who had been stabbed multiple times. Her assailant fled the scene on foot,” the statement from police said.

At approximately 2:56 p.m., after searching the area, a police unit located Tarpley near a bus stop on Route 166 in the area of the Toms River Home Depot.

“Toms River Detective Duncan MaCrae, with the assistance of other Toms River patrol and detective units took Tarpley into custody,” police said Sunday.

According to authorities, an investigation revealed that the victim knew Tarpley. Police also believe the suspect “held her against her will for a yet to be determined time.” Investigators also allege that “during the course of the abduction, he physically and sexually assaulted her.

Tarpley has been charged with first degree kidnapping, first degree aggravated sexual assault and second degree aggravated sexual assault. He is being detained at Ocean County Jail in default of $500,000 cash bail set by Judge Joseph Foster. Also participating in the investigation is Ocean County Prosecutor Detective Thomas Tiernan and Ocean County Sheriffs Department CIU unit.

Police did not release many details about the scene of the crime, but residents of the motel described a “grisly” scene to the Asbury Park Press.

“Daniel Nelson, 35, a resident of the motel, said the woman — whom he’s befriended since December — ran to his room naked and covered in blood at 3 a.m.,” the APP reported Sunday.

Nelson described the scene to the APP, saying “It looked like a horror movie.”

 

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