UPDATE (10:24pm): This story has been updated to include more information about the previous charges against the accused.
NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Authorities announced this afternoon that a suspect who was already in custody has been charged with the murder of William McCaw, a college student found dead in a Hartwell Street backyard more than a month ago.
City resident Timothy Puskas, age 38, was being held at the Middlesex County jail on an unrelated matter, according to a press release from the county prosecutor’s office.
On Thursday, authorities kicked down the doors at 64 Plum Street, a home that Puskas owned and lived in. According to sources, he left town just a few days before the raid.
Puskas was arrested and charged in Milltown the following day in the unrelated case and today was charged with McCaw’s killing. According to the Star-Ledger’s Sue Epstein, jail officials said Puskas was originally charged in a recent aggravated assault incident in New Brunswick and held on $150,000 bail.
This weekend, the front door to 64 Plum Street was left wide open, unable to be closed after the police kicked it down. A toolbox sat in the foyer of the two-family home.
All of the building’s tenants, who rented from Puskas, appear to have left for good after the raid.
Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Bradley J. Ferencz set bail today for Puskas at $5 million on the murder charge.
“There have been many dedicated individuals who have worked tirelessly and diligently to solve this brutal crime,” said Acting Prosecutor Andrew Carey, who credited dedicated law enforcment officers from the Prosecutor’s Offices in Middlesex and Union Counties, as well as the New Brunswick, Rutgers, and Woodbridge police departments.
“I hope that the family and friends of William McCaw have at least some sense of relief knowing that the murderer has been charged and is behind bars,” said Carey
The case began when residents of 28 Hartwell Street discovered McCaw’s body in their snowy backyard on February 15.
McCaw previously attended Rutgers University and had recently transferred to Kean University. He lived with friends in New Brunswick six nights a week and with his grandfather in Flemington.
McCaw had no known connection to the residents of the property where his body was discovered and a source who wished to remain confidential say they believed that the crime may have been a case of random violence.
According to the source, Puskas sufferred from mental health and addiction issues, as well as a short fuse and violent tendencies.
In 2012, Puskas was charged in another killing: He allegedly ran over a cyclist with a sport utility vehicle near Georges Road.
Puskas was held and eventually freed on $100,000 bail and charged with leaving the scene of an accident. He is scheduled to face charges of aggrivated manslaughter in that case this June, according to the Star-Ledger.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Martinez of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5217, extension 6028, or Investigator Daniewicz of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4018.
Please check back for more updates on this developing story.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.