Homeless Man Charged with Murder of Newark Woman

Woman's body found in Passaic River last Friday

A homeless Newark man was charged with the murder of a woman whose body was found last Friday in the Passaic River, authorities said.

Newark police found the body of Therese Diggins, 58, also of Newark, last week in the water near 996 Route 21, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office said. Her death had been ruled a homicide, following an autopsy that showed the cause of death was a stab wound to the neck and blunt force trauma to the head.

Joseph Melillo, 44, was arrested and charged with murder by detectives from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force.

Diggins and Melillo were living in Newark but were homeless at the time, authorities said. The relationship between the two is unclear.

Bail was set at $1 million by Judge Sebastian Lombardi.

Melillo's first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m. before Judge Peter J. Vazquez.


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