This is just crazy. SMH @ folks being more worried about snitching than locking up an armed gang that will kidnap and kill you or your neighbors.
Nadirah Ruffin’s abduction united a community hoping to bring her home. Now, investigators are hoping the public will band together again to catch whomever killed her.
“Please come forward,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said Thursday afternoon during a news conference. “Now is the time to help solve this matter and find the people responsible for the kidnapping and murder of Nadirah Ruffin.”
Ruffin, 19, of Egg Harbor Township, was at her cousin’s Atlantic City home at about 11:40 p.m. March 26 when three men and a woman wearing masks and armed with guns forced their way into the apartment, duct-taped the four other women there and took Ruffin at gunpoint.
That was the last time she was seen alive.
At about 10:30 Tuesday morning, a Philadelphia-area college rowing team was practicing on the Schuylkill River when they spotted a body stuck in brush at the bend just past Montgomery Avenue on the Martin Luther King Jr. Drive side, Housel said.
There was duct tape on the body’s head and part of the upper torso, and it had suffered a gunshot wound to the head. A handcuff dangled from the left ankle.
On Wednesday, a Philadelphia medical examiner confirmed the body was Ruffin’s.
Housel said it was unclear where or when Ruffin was placed in the water, but the flow of the river seems to suggest it was within less than two miles of where it was found, at a bend near the Route 1 overpass.
The prosecutor is asking that anyone in that area of Philadelphia try to recall suspicious activity near the water’s edge. He suggested a light-colored car with New Jersey tags in the style of a Hyundai or Ford Focus may be involved, declining to say where that information came from.
“It could be any little thing,” Housel said of information that could help the case. “Don’t come to the conclusion it may not be helpful. Let us come to that conclusion.”
The medical examiner was unable to determine when Ruffin was killed, and a murder scene has not been found. The body could have been put in the river anytime from March 27 to just before she was found, although Housel said it is believed the river was higher when the body first got stuck in the brush, which likely means it was there when rain swelled the river over the weekend.
Ruffin was killed elsewhere and then transported, Housel said, but it was unclear whether the slaying happened in New Jersey or Pennsylvania. Housel intends for his office to handle any prosecution in the case.
“Unless and until federal authorities choose to treat this as a specific type of federal crime, it will be prosecuted here,” he said.
If the killing did occur in Pennsylvania and charges are pursued there, both states can prosecute separately, he said.
Atlantic City residents generated a lot of attention for the case as they pleaded for people to come forward with information. But reminders of Ruffin are disappearing from the Back Maryland complex where she was taken.
Residents there say Ruffin’s cousin moved out of the home from which Ruffin was abducted last week. On Thursday, a maintenance man was preparing the unit for a new tenant. A copy of the flyer that was taped to a utility pole in front of the home had been torn off.
The residents, many of whom knew Ruffin, said Thursday that they feel sympathy but are reluctant to come forward with any information.
Joaquim Morillo lives with his wife and two children a block away from where the crime happened.
“I feel for the family and the young girl, but I don’t want to say anything. I don’t want to get into trouble,” he said. “There are too many bad people here.”
Resident Quashawn Wright, 18, said he knew Ruffin and could not believe what happened to her.
“That’s crazy. They never should have done something like that. No one deserves that, but especially not a young mother,” he said. “God will get them.”
But Wright said people in his neighborhood are not discussing what happened.
“Everyone here keeps their mouth closed,” he said while riding away on his bicycle.
Dali Ortiz, 15, said people in the area started acting differently after the incident.
“You don’t see people out after 7 at night anymore,” the 15-year-old said. “People are locking their doors, and nobody is hanging out late at night. People are being cautious and scared.”
Meanwhile, the residents who passed out flyers in Atlantic City and Pleasantville several times since the kidnapping said they plan to continue asking residents to speak up if they know what happened.
Co-organizer Taiwa Ukawabutu said the group will continue to seek information. They are planning a rally at noon Saturday at the site where she was abducted on North Maryland Avenue, he said.
“There was no doubt we were going to continue,” he said. “We need to change the way people are thinking. It’s time for all of this to stop.”
The campaign also included a search for Sierra Thomas, a 19-year-old mother who disappeared on the same block as Ruffin in November 2002.
Sheila Thomas, Sierra’s mother, was devastated when she heard Tuesday night that Ruffin suffered the same fate she fears befell her daughter.
But Thomas said the movement must continue for Ruffin’s death to have a positive effect.
“Nobody has said anything yet,” she said. “We want someone to come forward and tell what happened.”
Atlantic City and Philadelphia police continue to assist in the investigation, along with the FBI. A reward of as much as $20,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the suspect or suspects in Ruffin’s death.
“It is despicable,” Housel said of the abduction and killing. “It’s repulsive. It is our intention to find whoever did this.”
We’re putting this up because we want to put the word out. If you know anything, PLEASE contact the authorities so justice can be served.
R.I.P. Nadirah Ruffin and Sierra Thomas