A TOUCHY SITUATION Last week, police in Cape May County arrived at the home of a fellow officer, 40-year-old Merrill Meese Jr., to charge Meese's wife with a child-endangerment offense. They were walking to the front door when they were startled by a single gunshot. Once inside, they discovered the bodies of both Meese and his wife, Lorena. The couple's three-year-old son was found unharmed. The case is mysterious on several fronts. For one, South Jersey investigators refuse to elaborate on the aforementioned child-endangerment offense, except to say that it didn't involve the Meeses' child. Meese's mother defended her son and his wife, a Mexican native who worked as a nurse at a Cape May Court House hospital, in the days following the deaths. For another, if the case is a double suicide--as the investigators are currently calling it--why did the officers hear only one gunshot? Was it, in fact, a case of two people mutually deciding to end it all, or did one of them make the final choice for both? Jim Rybicki, the head of detectives for the county prosecutor's office, says no note was found. They're relatively certain, though, that the wounds--each had one to the head--were self-inflicted. Meese had been on the Middle Township force for 14 years. Investigators hope an autopsy will provide more answers--including whether a service revolver was used and how many shots were fired. "It appears to be that [a double suicide], but we can't absolutely say that. We still haven't made sense of it," Rybicki told PW a day after the bodies were discovered. "Everybody's pressing for answers. We just didn't want people thinking there were two homicides and that someone [a killer] is out there."
JUSTICE FOR AN IRISHMAN The bleeding has slowed, but it hasn't stopped yet. In October 1999, two armed thugs gunned down West Philadelphia businessman Martin McConigley, prompting friends and fellow Irishmen to raise a $20,000 reward with the hopes of jump-starting a seemingly unsolvable case. "Until these people are apprehended, said Thomas Conaghan of the Irish-American Federation shortly after the tragedy, "Martin McConigley's wounds still bleed in our community." A few weeks ago, Philadelphia police went public with the news that they'd arrested a 20-year-old Harrisburg man, Cerrone Furman. They also identified his alleged accomplice, 22-year-old Marlon Mullings. Though it took more than 15 months for the department to make this much progress (and then, it was only through the work of a "cold case" squad that kept the investigation active), the announcements brought some closure to friends of the 35-year-old McConigley. "This is not something you get over, not something you forget," says Patrick Gibbons, a Wayne resident who'd befriended the Irishman. "It does cross your mind that nobody will ever get caught but you have to have faith. This is a relief but, speaking for myself, I won't be entirely relieved until everyone is caught." That fall afternoon, McConigley was returning to his stucco business on Daggett Street. As he pulled up to his garage, he saw two men speeding away in a car. McConigley chased the men, who had just made off with $560 from his business partner. When he caught up with them, they shot him several times. City investigators suspect that Furman and Mullings might be behind a series of crimes between Philly and Harrisburg. They charged Furman--who was already in jail on an unrelated drug offense--with murder. They issued a warrant for Mullings, who's known to frequent the area of 52nd and Market streets. Investigators say the reward offer still stands. "To be honest," Gibbons says, "we're still trying to make sense of it all. Hopefully, they'll get that other guy soon."
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