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Hunter kills first bear of season before cracking Thermos open

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For the second year in a row, Marc Beardslee was the first hunter to bring in a kill to the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area in Sussex County. Watch video

FREDON -- For the second year in a row, Marc Beardslee was the first bear hunter to bring in a kill to the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area in Sussex County.

"I was lucky enough to get out into the tree stand early this morning, way before sunrise," Beardslee said. "The Lord blessed me with the opportunity right quick, right out of the gate. I was saying earlier, I didn't even get a chance to crack my Thermos open yet."

Beardslee, who killed the bear on private property in Sparta, said his secret was "early rising bears." He also said he'd familiarized himself with bears' patterns in the area weeks before the season opened. Beardslee estimated the bear to be about three years old.

Beardslee, who has been hunting most of his life and typically eats what he harvests, was also the first hunter in 2014 to bring a bear to the check station in Fredon. In both cases, he used a shotgun to kill the bear.

Bear hunting season opens to mild weather

"They call it hunting for a reason, you know, you're not successful every single time," he said. "Just to be out in the woods for sunrise, to see your breath, to see the trees, that's what it's about for me. The opportunity to harvest an animal makes it that much better."

Regarding the hunt, Beardslee said he's seen more bears on his property since the hunt started in 2010 -- not less -- so he believes hunters were helping to provide balance by culling the population.  

As for the protesters outside of the check station, Beardslee said bear hunting was one issue they didn't agree on but "I'm sure there's plenty of issues we do agree on." 

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Bob Considine said about 8,200 bear hunting permits had been sold as of Monday morning. The clear weather and the addition of several hunting zones had likely contributed to the increase, said Al Ivany, the DEP's Chief of the Bureau of Information and Education.

Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


Bear hunt 2015: Compromise unlikely between protesters and hunters

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Hunters lined up in their pick-up trucks into the check station where officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection weighed, sampled and tagged harvested bears. In most cases, they were often greeted by shouts of "no bear hunt" or, in some cases, "murderer" by protesters across the narrow road. Watch video

FREDON -- Fredon Springdale Road, the location of the Whittingham Wildlife Management Area's office, served as both a literal and a metaphorical dividing line Monday between those in favor of and opposed to the controversial bear hunt.

Hunters lined up their pick-up trucks into the check station where officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection weighed, sampled and tagged harvested bears. In most cases, they were greeted by shouts of "no bear hunt" or, in some cases, "murderer," by protesters across the narrow road. 

One of the more vocal protesters, Jerome Mandel, told NJ Advance Media he's protested the bear hunt during three different governors' terms.

"All this is is legalized murder," he said.

Mandel was one of nearly two dozen protesters at the check-in site Monday morning. Several protesters told NJ Advance Media they believed the hunt was cruel,  unnecessary and did little to address bear-human interactions.

Mark Buechel, a hunter, said he believed the bear hunt was "a necessary management tool."

"I've experienced a lot of nuisance bears," he said. "They've broken into my house and they had to be euthanized by police. If there's other alternatives, show us. But this is the way you keep them in check."

Hunter kills first bear of season before cracking Thermos open

Angie Metler, director of the Bear Education and Resource Center and the organizer behind Monday's protest, said she didn't believe hunting reduced the number of complaints.

"The only thing that works is becoming 'bear smart,'" Metler said. "Bear smart," she said, means learning to live with the bears through measures such as having a "bear-resistant garbage can," not putting out bird seed and bringing an outdoor grill inside after cooking.

"Just simple measures to take," she said. "My house borders a state park. I have no problems with black bears. They don't come anywhere near my home."

Carole Stanko, acting chief of the DEP's Bureau of Wildlife Management, pointed out that being "bear smart" does nothing to stop the bears from reproducing.

"Because we have such a dense population in the northwest part of the state, they are moving out from that and expanding their range," Stanko said. "We've had sightings in all counties in New Jersey."

According to the DEP, the annual hunt is most the effective and practical way of reducing the bear population. The past two years, however, have seen a drop in the number of bears harvested than when the bear hunt reopened in 2010.

Last year, 272 bears were harvested during the black bear hunt, a slight increase from the 251 taken in 2013, but a large drop from the 592 harvested in 2010.

Stanko said a combination of bad weather and declining permit sales led to a decrease harvest in 2013 and 2014.

Bear hunting season opens to mild weather

"The first few years it's a novelty for hunters because it's a new thing in New Jersey because we hadn't had a bear hunt for a number of years," Stanko said. "Then when they did it, they realized how much work it actually was to drag a three, four, five, six-hundred pound bear out of the woods... I think a lot of guys (in past years) thought 'one and done.'"

This year, however, permit sales were far more robust -- about 8,200 bear hunting permits had been purchased as of Monday morning. 

Among those hunters was father and son, Robert and Bobby Waldron. The Waldrons said they embraced the hunt as both a sport and a way to bond with each other. It was time-consuming, though -- Robert Waldron said it took them nearly three hours  from shooting the animal until they finally arrived at the check station.

Regarding the protesters, Robert Waldron said he wasn't fazed and acknowledged their difference of opinion.

"They don't bother me," he said. "Some people save trees. These guys save bears."

The Waldrons, in their own way, plan to preserve the bear -- as many meals' worth of meat and as a rug.

Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Teacher was 'extremely upset' on day she allegedly shot ex-cop boyfriend, prosecutor says

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Vertetis' attorney has claimed she acted in self-defense and said her employment, medical and family court records aren't relevant

MORRISTOWN -- A former elementary school teacher in Morris County was "extremely upset" about her job status and family issues on the day she allegedly killed her ex-policeman boyfriend, according to the prosecutor.

Virginia Vertetis, 52, who taught fourth grade at the Marie V. Duffy Elementary School in Wharton, had been "put on a leave of absence" three months earlier. On the day of the fatal shooting, she was "scheduled to return" to her job, but was not allowed to do so, Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Matthew Troiano said during a pretrial hearing Monday in Morristown.

And just three days earlier, during a proceeding in Family Court in Sussex County, where her former husband lives, Vertetis had been ordered to pay more money in child support to her ex-husband, Troiano said.

The boyfriend, Patrick Gilhuley, 51, of Staten Island, a retired New York City police officer, had told Vertetis he was breaking up with her when she fired multiple shots at him and killed him at her house in Mount Olive on March 3, 2014, authorities have said.

Based on the prosecutor's account, that break-up would have come on the heels of the bad news about the job and the child support.

During the hearing in Superior Court in Morristown, Troiano sought to admit as evidence Vertetis' employment records, court records and medical records.

Those documents are relevant, Troiano said, because the defense attorney is claiming Vertetis acted in self-defense. By contrast, those documents point to what Vertetis' "frame of mind" was on the "day of the deadly shooting," Troiano said. 

Vertetis was "extremely upset" about not being allowed to return to her job and was also upset about the family judge's decision, because that meant "she would be obligated to pay more money to her ex-husband" and would have trouble "making ends meet," Troiano said. Vertetis and her ex-husband, a Newton police officer, had two children who were then older teenagers.

Vertetis had also been seeing four doctors regarding her mental health and had visited one on the day of the incident, Troiano said.

Vertetis' attorney, Edward Bilinkas, has said Vertetis shot Gilhuley in self-defense as part of a struggle.

In court Monday, Bilinkas argued vehemently against releasing his client's personal records, saying they have nothing to do with self-defense. "I can't imagine what relevance her employment record would have," he said.

Bilinkas added that a psychiatric report would not be relevant unless he were raising a psychiatric defense, and he's not doing that.

"My client was beaten and threatened and her life was in jeopardy," Bilinkas said, adding that he has seen a photo of her bruises taken shortly after the killing. 

Judge Stephen Taylor said he will be issuing a written ruling on the motion to allow Vertetis' personal records.

He did not say how he would rule, but told Bilinkas that even if self-defense is raised, "We still have to explore the defendant's state of mind. Her medications and psychiatric history are important."

In a text message to her parents, Vertetis said, "I can't stop crying long enough to call you," Taylor said, saying why she was crying would be a "relevant" subject.

Bilinkas said he is still waiting on a key piece of evidence -- DNA and blood tests on fired bullets that were found in the front hallway and doorway of the house.

Vertetis was standing at the top of the stairs and firing down at Gilhuley and several bullets were found in the foyer and in the doorway, Bilinkas said, noting he wants to determine if Gilhuley's blood is on those bullets.  

Ben Horowitz may be reached at bhorowitz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @HorowitzBen. Find NJ.com on Facebook

Byram man faces child pornography charges

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Suspect was arrested twice in November, police say

BYRAM -- A 27-year-old resident was charged with child pornography offenses last month, police said.

police lights2.jpg 

Michael Olivo was charged with possession of child pornography Nov. 19 following an investigation conducted with the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office and State Police, Byram police said. Olivo, who allegedly admitted to having pornographic images in his home, was released pending a subsequent Sussex County Superior Court appearance.

Olivo was arrested a second time less than a week later, on Nov. 25, when police said further investigation resulted in a second-degree charge of distribution of child pornography.

He was  being held at the Keogh Dwyer Correctional Facility on $85,000 bail.

Paul Milo may be reached at pmilo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@PaulMilo2. FindNJ.com on Facebook

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More than 200 animals taken on first day of bear hunt

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One-day total already close to take in all of 2014 Watch video

FREDON -- A total of 216 bears were taken during the first day of the state's controversial hunt Monday, a day when both hunters and animals alike were likely more active due to relatively warm temperatures and clear conditions, according to preliminary figures released late Monday night by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The vast majority of bears hunted were in Sussex County, where 138 animals were weighed in, followed by 41 in Warren, 20 in Passaic, 15 in Morris and two in Bergen. No animals were harvested in Hunterdon, Somerset and Mercer counties, the other areas where the hunt, which ends Saturday, is taking place.

As of 5 p.m., when figures were still being compiled, the largest bear taken weighed 658.5 lbs and was hunted at Allamuchy State Park, a DEP spokesman, Bob Considine, said.

Monday's total is already close to the 272 animals hunted in all of the 2014 season, which was marked by days of bitter cold. The first day of last year's season also saw the highest take that year by far, with 124 bears harvested -- far less than the number of animals taken Monday. 

Black bear hunting season again coincides with deer firearms season, as it has every year since the bear hunt was reintroduced in New Jersey five years ago to rein in populations that wildlife officials say are leading to more, and potentially dangerous, encounters with humans.

As in years past, the hunt drew protesters who said killing the animals was inhumane and did little to solve the underlying problem -- two populations, human and ursine, moving in on each other's turf.

"When New Jersey said we needed a hunt it was to protect public safety and to get rid of aggressive bears. After five years of a hunt just the opposite has happened; we have seen aggressive bear incidents increase. The Sierra Club has been advocating for an effective bear management plan that would actually reduce these incidents," said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the group. 

Tittel said an ideal plan "would include public education on how to deal with bears and bear proofing properties, reducing food sources especially garbage, and other non-lethal methods such as bear aversion therapy."

"Whether we have a hunt or not we need to have a proper management plan."

For more information on the hunt, click here.

Paul Milo may be reached at pmilo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter@PaulMilo2. FindNJ.com on Facebook

Staff writer Justin Zaremba contributed to this report

12-year plea offer extended to Hopatcong dad accused of kidnapping sons

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Dohm violated a custody arrangement with his ex-wife when he took the two boys to Florida, authorities said

NEWTON -- The Hopatcong father who allegedly abducted his two sons and fled to Florida with an accused sex offender has been offered an agreement in which he would receive a 12-year prison sentence in exchange for pleading guilty to first-degree kidnapping, according to the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office.

The father, Kristopher Dohm, 36, is expected to confer with his attorney, Miles Feinstein, and will give his reaction at his next court appearance on Jan. 7, Sussex First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller confirmed in an interview on Tuesday.

Another assistant prosecutor, Seana Pappas, extended that offer to Dohm in a court appearance on Monday, Mueller said.

Feinstein was not immediately available for comment on the offer.

Dohm, 37, had a custody arrangement with his two sons, Jaxon, then 7, and Parker, then, 8, but his former wife, Sandra Hughes Dohm, contacted authorities on Feb. 5 after Kristopher Dohm failed to return the boys as expected to her home in the Landing section of Roxbury.

The arrangement was put in place after the couple's 2012 divorce, Hopatcong and State Police have said.

Dohm was located with the boys on March 18 -- six weeks later -- at the Royal Palm Inn in New Port Richey, Fla.

Authorities said they tracked Dohm and his childhood friend, Edward William Tarras, to the hotel after determining their location from a cell phone registered to Tarras.

Tarras, a fugitive who originally came from the Budd Lake section of Mount Olive, had been on the lam since August after he cut off his ankle monitor and failed to appear at a pretrial hearing in Tennessee. In March 2013, Tarras had been charged in a rape case involving a minor in that state.

After Dohm was found, he waived extradition and the boys were reunited with their mother.

Ben Horowitz may be reached at bhorowitz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @HorowitzBen. Find NJ.com on Facebook

By second day of hunt, more bears culled than in all of '14

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Good weather continues on the second day of the weeklong hunting season

FREDON -- The total number of bears harvested by the second day of the state's bear hunt reached 309, already exceeding by a considerable margin the number of animals taken in all of last year, according to preliminary figures from the state Department of Environmental Protection released Tuesday night. 

Ninety-three animals -- the large majority hunted in Sussex County, which usually leads among all counties for number of bears claimed -- were weighed on Tuesday, less than half the number of animals on the first day of the hunt Monday. 

The five-year-old firearms hunt was introduced to limit populations of black bears in New Jersey, especially in the northern part of the state. The hunt is permitted in parts of eight counties. 

Cops investigating fatal crash on Route 15 in Sparta

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Sparta police confirmed one person was killed in a head-on crash on Route 15 Tuesday night.

SPARTA -- Township police confirmed one person was killed in a head-on crash on Route 15 Tuesday night.

An accident investigation shut down Route 15 south in Sparta at 11:38 p.m. Tuesday between Route 517/Sparta Bypass and Blue Heron Drive, the Department of Transportation reported.

Sparta police and the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office were investigating the crash Wednesday.

Sparta police Sgt. Dennis Proctor said more information on the crash would be released later in the day Wednesday.

Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.


Bear recipes: How to cook what you kill

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The 2015 bear hunt is underway and already bringing in substantially more bears than the past two seasons. But what do you do with the bear afterwards? Watch video

The 2015 bear hunt is underway and already bringing in substantially more bears than the past two seasons. 

But what do you do with the bear and its deep-red gamey (some might say greasy) flesh afterward? Several of the hunters NJ Advance Media spoke with this week said they planned to make the bears they killed into dinner.

To assist hunters with their preparations, the state Department of Environmental Protection released a 17-page cookbook last year that explains how to butcher bear along with recipes for cooking bear meat as a meatloaf, stew, chili, bratwurst and, even, osso bucco. Preparations for bear jerky and bear stock are also included in the cookbook.

More than 200 animals taken on first day of bear hunt

A word of warning: Black bear meat can be a carrier of Trichinella spiralis and Toxoplasma gondii, the parasites that cause the diseases trichinosis and toxoplasmosis in humans, according to the DEP.

"Proper cooking techniques can ensure that your bear meat is safe to eat," the DEP said in an advisory. "Like pork, the proper cooking time for bear meat is 375 degrees (Fahrenheit) for 20-25 minutes per pound. Internal cooking temperature should reach 160 degrees for 3 minutes or more before consumption. Cook until there is no trace of pink meat or fluid paying close attention to areas around the joints and close to the bone. Freezing meat does not always kill these parasites."

It continued: "Connoisseurs of bear meat suggest freezing, canning or eating it within a week after the kill as the flavor becomes stronger with age. Trim fat from the meat especially well and, as is the case with all meat, good wrapping and sealing is recommended."

Bear hunt 2015: Compromise unlikely between protesters and hunters

Two recipes that the DEP says are "highly recommended" are included below:


Grilled, Spiced Bear Tenderloin

Ingredients

  • 1 lb bear tenderloin or back strap, trimmed of all fat and silver skin
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Spice Mix

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 ground clove
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

(Or use any combination of your favorite game spices)

Directions

  1. In small bowl, mix all spices until combined
  2. Add oil and stir to make a paste
  3. Prepare tenderloin, making sure all fat is trimmed. Caution: When grilling bear meat, dripping fat will ignite! Trim all fat before cooking!
  4. Rub all sides of the trimmed tenderloin evenly with spice paste. Set aside.
  5. Prepare grill (charcoal recommended) for medium heat
  6. Place tenderloin on grill and cook slowly on medium heat until fully cooked, turning occasionally
  7. Allow bear meat to reach an internal temp of 160 degrees before consumption

Oven-Barbecued Bear Ribs

Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 lbs bear ribs
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke flavoring
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients, excluding ribs & water
  2. In a Dutch oven, combine ribs, 2 cups of water and 3/4 cup of the sauce
  3. Heat rib mixture to boiling
  4. Reduce heat and cover
  5. Simmer until ribs are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, rearranging ribs occasionally
  6. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  7. Arrange ribs on roasting pan and brush with remaining sauce
  8. Bake for 10 minutes; turn over
  9. Brush again with sauce
  10. Bake for 10 minutes longer

Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Scout leader's killer faces sentencing, says sex abuse drove him

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The defense attorney is asking for a reduced sentence, based on the Fredericks' lack of a prior record and the "triggers" that led him to attack his alleged abuser

NEWTON -- A 49-year-old Stillwater man who said his onetime Boy Scout leader sexually abused him is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday morning for killing the man in revenge.

Clark T. Fredericks was originally charged with murder in the 2012 stabbing death of Dennis Pegg, 68, who was also a retired Sussex County corrections officer.

But in June, Fredericks pleaded guilty to one count of passion/provocation manslaughter, a second-degree crime carrying a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

"Based on the investigation, we feel we are unable to disprove the defense of passion provocation beyond a reasonable doubt," Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller said in June in explaining his acceptance of the plea.

Fredericks was expected to receive a five-to-10-year sentence as part of that plea agreement in Superior Court in Newton, but on Thursday, his attorney, Daniel Perez, will be seeking even less time.

Scout leader's killer takes deal

Perez, in an interview Wednesday, said he is asking Judge Thomas Critchley to sentence Fredericks for a third-degree crime, with a term of just four years.

Under state law, Perez said, he may ask for sentencing one degree lower than the guilty plea if the "mitigating factors outweigh the aggravating factors."

Citing those factors, Perez said Fredericks had suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder for many years as a result of his sexual abuse by Pegg when he was between the ages of 8 and 12.

Fredericks had a "strong provocation" for attacking Pegg, had no prior criminal record and is unlikely to reoffend, Perez added.

Describing the circumstances that led to the attack on Pegg, Perez said the attack on Pegg occurred after Fredericks' PTSD set off "a series of triggers."

The attack occurred the day after former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky went to trial on charges of sexually abusing boys, Perez said. Fredericks had told no one about how he was abused, but had recently seen Pegg in Newton, in the company of a young boy.

With that fresh in his mind, Fredericks was drinking and using cocaine with a friend, Robert Reynolds, and he told Reynolds he was angry at another man whom he had paid $50,000 to customize a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but the man had taken the money and not done the work, Perez said.

Reynolds said, "That guy must be No. 1 on your hit list," Perez said.

Fredericks then said, "No, the guy who raped me is No. 1 on my hit list," and revealed the story about Pegg for the first time, according to Perez.

Reynolds told him, "Let's go get him," and Fredericks ultimately agreed, Perez said.

Reynolds, who allegedly drove to the attack, was also charged with murder and his case is still pending in the Newton court.

On Thursday, Perez said, a psychologist will tell the court how a person with PTSD may not have the ability to "control their own emotions" when these triggers are set off, Fredericks said.

Fredericks has maintained that Pegg molested him and other boys over the course of several years.

At his guilty plea, he told the court that he snapped after Sandusky's molestation case made headlines, and he and a friend went to Pegg's home to "go get him.'

Pegg was never charged with molesting any children, or any other sex crime. But at least one other former Scout has come forward to authorities claiming Pegg had molested him when he was 13 years old, and investigators have determined Pegg had numerous photos of child pornography on his computer.

At his plea, Fredericks said Pegg told him he would get "drunk and naked" with other young boys, including two who the defendant knew, a "close relative" and "a close friend."  

Fredericks said the friend ultimately wound up committing suicide in February 1983 by shooting himself in the head. Fredericks has said he believes it was motivated by Pegg's abuse.

Ben Horowitz may be reached at bhorowitz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @HorowitzBen. Find NJ.com on Facebook

Woman charged with vehicular homicide after wrong-way crash on Route 15

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A 50-year-old woman is accused DWI and vehicular homicide following a fatal crash on Route 15 in Sparta Tuesday night, police said.

SPARTA -- A 50-year-old woman is facing charges of vehicular homicide and DWI for allegedly causing a fatal wrong-way crash on Route 15 Tuesday night.

Teresa Verbout, of Sparta, was heading northbound on Route 15 south in her 2014 Jeep Cherokee at about 11:06 p.m. when she nearly struck a police officer's vehicle, police said in a news release.

The officer, Cpl. Adam Carbery, took evasive action and avoided crashing into the Jeep, police said. He then turned around into the northbound lanes in order to pursue the vehicle and try to stop it, police said.

Verbout's Jeep continued traveling the wrong way in the southbound lanes, and, before police could catch up, her Jeep struck a 1998 Toyota Corolla head-on, police said.

Man killed in wrong-way Route 15 crash was beloved, known for 'bear hugs'

The driver of the Toyota -- Robert J. Hunter III, 22, of the Flanders section of Mount Olive -- was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Verbout was flown to Morristown Medical Center after suffering serious injuries to her legs, police said. She's been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide and with driving while intoxicated.

Route 15 south was closed early Wednesday morning while authorities investigated the crash.

Sparta police were assisted by the State Police, the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office and the Medical Examiner's Office.

Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Total of 366 bears killed as of hunt's third day

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The controversial cull of animals ends Saturday.

FREDON -- On the third day of the state's annual bear hunt, about a quarter as many animals were killed than on the opening day Monday but the day's tally was still higher than at an equivalent point in the 2014 hunt, according to preliminary figures released by the state Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday.

A total of 57 black bears were taken Wednesday, another day marked by warm weather favorable to hunters seeking the animals, who tend to be more active in milder conditions. Once again, Sussex County led all eight counties in number of animals taken, with 37, followed by Warren, with 13.

No bears have yet been reported killed in three counties where the firearms hunt has been permitted, Bergen, Somerset and Mercer, although preliminary figures earlier in the week indicated a few animals had been killed in Bergen.

The hunt, meant to curb populations of the animals primarily north of the I-78 corridor, ends Saturday.

Vintage photos of 'things we survived' in N.J.

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Were these things dangerous? Sometimes, certainly. Some things from the past had to change.

The pictures and the prose are posted on the internet often; they've become a meme.

It's a photo of individuals involved in some activity from days gone by with a heading akin to "and we survived." Or, it's a list of relatively common occurrences from a generation or two ago -- i.e., staying out until the streetlights came on -- with a similar sentiment.

10702195_525131694303175_98901183475252032_n.jpgMy ramp would have been even less sturdy. 

They are activities and occurrences that, for one reason or another, have been relegated to the past.

Let me say right up front that I'm not taking any "sides" here. This is not an attempt to indict any present-day practices/beliefs nor is it an effort to make anyone from the past look "less than bright." Believe me, I've participated in my fair share of stupid stunts. And, apparently it runs in the family. My Dad, who was a brilliant electrical engineer, admits to having once, as a child, jumped off the roof of his house holding an umbrella "to see what would happen." What happened was what you would expect to happen, though no bones were broken.

One of the things that often gets overlooked in those listicles is that children from my generation and previous ones didn't have as much to choose from as kids today. There weren't as many organized activities, there weren't as many TV channels, there weren't any computer games. And, back then mothers would regularly encourage their kids to "go outside and get some fresh air!" So, in our interest in avoiding boredom, we oftentimes did things that could be looked back on -- with the benefit of hindsight -- as stupid. And, having participated in many of them, I can also say in hindsight that they were fun.

Were these things dangerous? Sometimes, certainly. The 'clackers' craze from the 1970, for example - everyone had to have a set of the solid balls on string. It might not have been easy to "take an eye out with those things," but fingers, noses and other body parts were in jeopardy.

Some things from the past had to change. In a 2014 article in the New York Times, Jane Brody noted that "the prevalence of peanut allergy among children in the United States has risen more than threefold, to 1.4 percent in 2010 from 0.4 percent in 1997, according to a study by food allergists at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City." Some may wax nostalgic for the days of classroom parties with all sorts of homemade treats (nuts included), but facts are facts - and in many cases the risk is most definitely not worth the reward.

Others leave many of us shaking our heads. There really doesn't seem to be any explanation why generations of children played "tag" or dodgeball on playgrounds, only to find, in the 21st century, that some people find these exercises harmful and ban the games.

MORE: Vintage photos around New Jersey

So, instead of trying to prove anything, let's just enjoy a look back at some of the things many of us did in New Jersey years ago ... and survived. Be sure to click on the captions button to read more about these vintage photos.

Greg Hatala may be reached at ghatala@starledger.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregHatala. Find The Star-Ledger on Facebook.

Man who killed his alleged sex abuser gets 5 years in prison

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Clark Fredericks of Stillwater will get credit for the time he has spent in jail since the incident on June 12, 2012 and will be eligible for release on parole in about nine months

NEWTON - A 50-year-old Sussex County man was sentenced Thursday to five years in state prison for killing his onetime Boy Scout leader who he accused of sexually abusing him.

Clark T. Fredericks of Stillwater will get credit for the time he has spent at the Sussex County jail since the incident on June 12, 2012 and will be eligible for release on parole in about nine months, because he must serve 85 percent of the five-year sentence.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Critchley in Newton imposed the minimum sentence for passion/provocation manslaughter, the second-degree crime to which Fredericks had pleaded guilty. He had originally been charged with first-degree murder.

During a more than three-hour sentencing hearing, the judge, prosecutor and defense attorney agreed the evidence was overwhelming that Fredericks had, in fact, been abused as a child by the man he stabbed to death, Dennis Pegg, 68, of Stillwater.

Scout leader's killer takes deal

Noting the unique circumstances, Critchley said, "I don't feel like I am sentencing someone who was committed to a criminal lifestyle. What happened to him as a child made him snap."

"It is clear that the young Mr. Fredericks was exploited, abused and damaged by someone who wormed his way into a position of authority," Critchley said.

But the judge stopped short of reducing the charge to a third-degree level and imposing a four-year sentence, as had been requested by defense attorney Daniel Perez, who pointed out, among other things, that Fredericks had been provoked.

Critchley said he had been "tempted" to do that, but he and Sussex County First Assistant Prosecutor Gregory Mueller pointed out that provocation had already been taken into account when the charge was reduced.

Also, they pointed out, killing is not the way to solve problems. In fact, both praised Fredericks for saying that when he addressed the court.

"I don't recommend that anyone follow in my steps," Fredericks said, noting that he never spoke about the abuse until the night of the killing.

"No matter how painful it may seem, I urge everyone to speak out about abuse," and bring perpetrators to justice though the legal system instead, Fredericks said.

Fredericks has said that Pegg, who was also a Sussex County corrections officer, sexually abused him when he was between the ages of 8 and 12. Pegg was a family friend and Fredericks had frequently visited at his house.

Pegg told him to keep the matter a secret and once, he severely beat a dog to show Fredericks what would happen to him if he told anyone, according to Fredericks.

While drinking alcohol and using cocaine with a friend, Robert Reynolds, on June 12, 2012, Fredericks said he told Reynolds about the abuse and Reynolds said "let's go get him."

The two men went to Pegg's home in Stillwater and less than 40 minutes after their conversation, Pegg was dead after having been stabbed 30 times, according to authorities.

Also addressing the court was Frederick's niece, Kimberley Fredericks, who said Fredericks had been "the best uncle and friend in the world. I couldn't ask for a better role model."

"I couldn't figure out how such a great guy could be alone and so angry," until she found out about the abuse, the niece said, urging a light sentence.

Afterwards, Clark Fredericks' mother and sister expressed relief the case was over and praised how it was handled, declining to complain about the sentence not being reduced even more.

"The judge did the best he could based on the evidence," said the defendant's sister, Holly Celiano. She joined her brother in urging sex abuse victims to report the crimes as quickly as possible.

Fredericks' mother, Joan Fredericks, said, "I feel like my prayers have been answered ... When he gets home, the first thing I will say is 'welcome home and what would you like to eat.' "

As for Pegg's family, Mueller, the assistant prosecutor, said his death "was harder on them than I have seen with any other victim."

"Not only did they lose someone they love, they lost a memory," Mueller pointed out, noting he wasn't the person they thought he was and he never got a chance to explain.

Mueller read a statement from Pegg's family which acknowledged there may have been some wrongdoing on Pegg's part, but called Fredericks "a self-appointed judge, jury and executioner."

Instead of properly going through legal channels to address the problem, "You chose to savagely end his life with your unlawful action," Pegg's family said. "Ironically, you asked for justice only after you killed the person you say harmed you."

Mueller urged people not to lose sight of "the horrific nature of this crime."

"Dennis Pegg was home alone, watching ESPN. Then two intruders came in and he was stabbed 30 times," Mueller said.

But, the prosecutor pointed out, psychologists hired by both the state and the defense team came to virtually the same conclusions -- that Fredericks had been abused by Pegg.

Fredericks "very obviously acted under provocation. He was let down by various individuals as he grew up," Mueller said.

"People made complaints against Dennis Pegg 30 or 40 years ago, but there was never a viable prosecution," Mueller said. "People recanted."

In the early 1980s, he said, one case was investigated for two years, but there was "never enough evidence to prosecute."

"We have zero tolerance for child abuse," the prosecutor added. "It doesn't matter if the target is a police officer or a prosecutor, we will prosecute regardless of the position."

Ben Horowitz may be reached at bhorowitz@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @HorowitzBen. Find NJ.com on Facebook

Sussex man accused of sexually assaulting teen girl

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A 22-year-old Sussex man is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Sparta.

sparta police.jpg 

VERNON -- A 22-year-old Sussex man is facing charges for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Sparta.

Sebastian Slate was charged this week with second-degree sexual assault and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child, Vernon police Lt. Keith Kimkowski said.

Man who killed his alleged sex abuser gets 5 years in prison

The girl told officers at Vernon police headquarters Monday that she was sexually assaulted by a man she knew on Nov. 20, Kimkowski said.

Detective Scott Waleck with the Sparta police and the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office investigated the matter and filed charges against Slate.

He was remanded to the Keogh-Dwyer Correctional Facility in lieu of $50,000 bail.

Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
 
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Bear hunt Day 4: 24 bears culled for a total of 390 killed

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Nearly 400 bears killed as weeklong hunt enters its final days Watch video

FREDON -- Two dozen additional animals were killed Thursday, the fourth day of New Jersey's annual bear hunt, according to preliminary figures reported by the state Department of Environmental Protection Thursday night. 

The tally as of Thursday now stood at 390 animals, most killed in Sussex, Warren, Morris and Passaic counties. Another seven animals were killed in Hunterdon, and none had yet been killed in the remaining three counties where the firearms hunt was authorized: Bergen, Mercer and Somerset. 

The hunt, first reintroduced in 2010, is meant to reduce large black bear populations, although environmental groups and animal-rights activists have said killing the animals is neither effective in the long term nor humane. The last day of this year's cull is Saturday. 

For the first time during the 2015 hunt, the state also released figures showing the daily "harvest rate," based on the number of tagged bears killed. On Monday, when the greatest number of animals by far was taken, the harvest rate stood at 8.3 percent. On Thursday, when the smallest number of animals was killed, the harvest rate was at 15 percent. 

Take this week's NJ.com News Quiz

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These seven questions will prove if you truly know New Jersey news.

You've spent all week reading all manner of local news stories. Are you ready to put that knowledge to good use? Take the quiz below based on some of this week's most popular local news stories. Once you're done, share your score in comments to see how you stack up with other NJ.com users.

John Shabe can be reached via jshabe@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter and find NJ.com on Facebook.

 
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Man who wore devil mask during Dairy Queen robbery gets 12 years

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A man who pleaded guilty to robbing a Route 23 Dairy Queen in Montague last year while using a toy gun and wearing a devil mask was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in state prison, the prosecutor's office said.

Ishmael GillianIshmael Gillian 

NEWTON -- A man who pleaded guilty to robbing a Route 23 Dairy Queen in Montague last year while using a toy gun and wearing a devil mask was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in state prison, the prosecutor's office said.

Ishmael Gillian, 34, of Port Jervis, N.Y., pleaded guilty this past October at Sussex County Superior Court in Newton to first-degree robbery for the July 10, 2014, New Jersey Herald reported. Gillian, who wore a red devil mask during the robbery, was driven to and from the robbery by Sara Rowland, 24, of Matamoras, Pa., the newspaper reported.

Rowland also pleaded guilty in October to second-degree robbery for her role in the robbery, the newspaper reported. She has not yet been sentenced.

2 admit roles in devil mask robbery of Dairy Queen, report says

As part of his plea, Gillian received credit for 488 days, the Sussex County Prosecutor's Office said. He's also been ordered to pay all fees and fines.

As previously reported by The Star-Ledger, State Police sought the public's help in identifying the masked man who robbed these two locations.

Justin Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinZarembaNJ. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
 
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10 displaced, 1 hurt when fire rips through Sussex apartments

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The multi-alarm blaze was reported in the Alpine Village Complex at 4 Center St.

SUSSEX BOROUGH - One person was slightly hurt and 10 residents were displaced when fire tore through an apartment complex Thursday night.

The multi-alarm blaze was reported in the Alpine Village Complex at 4 Center St.

Initial reports were that several apartments were left uninhabitable, officials said.

One person suffered a minor injury and was taken to a local hospital.

Units from Sussex Fire Department and EMS, Wantage Fire Department and NJ State Police were on the scene.

Anthony G. Attrino may be reached at tattrino@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TonyAttrino. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Democratic ads target Garrett over guns and terrorists | The Auditor

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The House Democrats' fundraising arm is running radio ads against Rep. Scott Garrett.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running radio advertisements this week criticizing Rep. Scott Garrett's stand on gun control.

The 15-second commercials, to run on New York City radio stations while New Jersey residents are commuting to and from work, accuse Garrett (R-5th Dist.) of voting to allow people on the terrorist watch list from buying firearms and explosives.

"Congressman Scott Garrett voted to keep allowing suspected terrorists to buy assault rifles," said the ad, which urges people to call his office "and demand he keep us safe."

Garrett is considered the most vulnerable member of the state's congressional delegation and has been targeted by the House Democrats' fundraising arm. His likely Democratic opponent, former White House speechwriter Josh Gottheimer, has raised more than $1 million for his campaign.

Congressional Republicans, backed by the National Rifle Association and other supporters of gun owners' rights, have opposed preventing individuals on the watch list from buying weapons.

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/08/will_voters_remember_nj_rep_scott_garretts_comments_next_fall.html

"As many Americans know, the no-fly list has many deficiencies, and using this list as a test to strip constitutional due process rights won't make our country safer from the extremist terrorist threats like we saw in San Bernadino," Garrett said in a statement. "The American people need leadership and a plan from President Obama instead of relying on a flawed no-fly list that has no credibility because it has featured over 70 Department of Homeland Security employees, members of Congress, and even U.S. senators."

In actuality, Garrett never voted on the issue. What he did was join every other Republican, including bill sponsor Peter King of New York, in voting against a procedural motion to allow House Democrats to consider the gun provisions.

Such votes are tests of party discipline and even lawmakers who support the proposal do not defy their leaders lest they lose control of the agenda.

The DCCC launched the same criticism against freshman Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.) earlier this year. 

The Senate, voting primarily along party lines, rejected a proposal to prevent individuals on the government's terrorist watch list from buying guns. In the House, Democrats have offered a series of motions to pressure the majority Republicans into allowing a vote on the measure.

"Congressman Scott Garrett's refusal to act and ensure suspected terrorists can't legally buy guns is downright reckless, as it puts our national security at risk," DCCC spokesman Bryan Lesswing said. "New Jersey families deserve a member of Congress that will do everything in their power to keep us safe in the wake of horrific attacks here at home and around the globe, rather than protecting suspected terrorists' ability to buy guns."

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