Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and Surf City Police Chief John N. Casella, Jr., announced that on October 20, 2021, Sherry Lee Heffernan, 55, of Landenberg, Pennsylvania, was charged with Possession of a Weapon – specifically a handgun – for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4a, as well as Unlawful Possession of a Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5b.
Heffernan was previously charged on October 5, 2021 with two counts of Murder in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3a(1), in connection with the deaths of John Enders and Francoise Pitoy in Surf City on or about September 29, 2021. Heffernan was also charged on that date with Possession of a Weapon -specifically a knife – for an Unlawful Purpose in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-4d, as well as Unlawful Possession of Weapon in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5d.
On October 3, 2021, at approximately 4:00 p.m., Officers from the Surf City Police Department responded to a residence on North 7th Street to conduct a welfare check upon the residents. When they arrived, Officers located the bodies of John Enders, 87, of Surf City, and Francoise Pitoy, 75, of Manchester; it was readily apparent that both victims were already deceased. On October 4, 2021, the Ocean County Medical Examiner performed a post-mortem examination of Mr. Enders and determined the cause of his death to be multiple stab wounds with severance of the right carotid artery and blunt force trauma; the manner of death was ruled to be a homicide. A post-mortem examination of Ms. Pitoy performed on October 5, 2021 determined the cause of her death to be multiple stab wounds as well as a gunshot wound to the face; the manner of her death was likewise ruled a homicide. Based upon the gunshot wound to Ms. Pitoy, the Medical Examiner performed an additional examination of Mr. Enders and found that he had also suffered a gunshot wound to the face.
An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Surf City Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit revealed that the victims were involved in a dating relationship, and that Mr. Enders was the primary owner the residence. Ms. Pitoy stayed with him at the residence regularly. The cooperative investigation ultimately determined that Heffernan, Mr. Enders’ daughter, was responsible for the deaths of both Mr. Enders and Ms. Pitoy. “The discovery of additional evidence demonstrating that Heffernan used a handgun in the commission of this crime – in addition to a knife – precipitated the filing of these additional weapons charges,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.
On October 4, 2021, Heffernan was taken into custody by the Pennsylvania State Police at her residence in Landenberg. On October 20, 2021, Heffernan was returned to New Jersey and served with the new weapons charges. She is currently lodged in the Ocean County Jail pending a detention hearing.
Prosecutor Billhimer and Chief Cassella commend the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Economic Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Intelligence Squad, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, Surf City Police Department, Long Beach Township Police Department, Stafford Township Police Department, New Jersey State Police, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, Ocean County Motor Vehicle Services, Pennsylvania State Police, Collegeville (Pennsylvania) Police Department, Horsham Township (Pennsylvania) Police Department, Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) District Attorney’s Office, Chester County (Pennsylvania) District Attorney’s Office, Maryland State Police, and North East (Maryland) Police Department, for their collective and cooperative assistance in connection with this investigation leading to Heffernan’s apprehension.
The charges referenced above are merely accusations and the press and public are reminded that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.