Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli announced today the arrests of three individuals for various crimes in connection with yesterday’s death of Doreen Leach, 47 years of age, who resided at 18 Emerson Plaza West, Apartment 2, Emerson, New Jersey. The investigation into the death of Ms. Leach is being conducted by detectives of the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit under the direction of Chief Steven CUCCINIELLO and the Emerson Police Department under the direction of Chief Donald ROSSI.

On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, at 3:26 a.m., the Emerson Police Department responded to a 9-1-1 call reporting an unresponsive female at 18 Emerson Plaza West, Apartment 9, Emerson, New Jersey. Upon their arrival, police found the victim lying on the floor in the apartment and determined she had expired from an apparent drug overdose. She was pronounced dead at the scene and an investigation was initiated to determine the circumstances surrounding her death.

The investigation revealed that Doreen Leach was in the apartment of her downstairs neighbor at the time of her death. Preceding her death, she and several others were using various drugs, including heroin. It was learned that the person who supplied the heroin to the victim, also present at the time of Ms. Leach’s death, was CHRISTOPHER BENVENUTO, 26 years of age of Old Tappan, New Jersey. When he realized that Ms. Leach had possibly overdosed, Mr. BENVENUTO removed all evidence of the drug use and fled the apartment rather than render aid or call for help. The 9-1-1 call was then made by the female resident of Apartment 9.

Detectives located Christopher BENVENUTO at his residence in Old Tappan and recovered the items removed by him from the Emerson scene. In addition, an individual identified as JORDAN ROSS, 38 years of age of Glen Ridge, New Jersey, was found hiding in the house. ROSS was arrested for Possession of Heroin, being under the Influence of CDS and Hindering Apprehension. He also had an outstanding arrest warrant for failure to appear on various drug related offenses from earlier this year. Jordan ROSS’ bail was set at $7,500.00 and he was remanded to the Bergen County Jail.

The investigation also revealed that Christopher BENVENUTO had purchased the heroin he supplied to the victim from JESSIE KURZWEEL (age 26) of Closter, New Jersey. KURZWEEL was located and arrested in the parking lot of the Paramus Park Mall yesterday afternoon. Found in his possession at the time of his arrest were several bags of suspected heroin.

An autopsy was performed on the victim by the Bergen County Medical Examiner’s Office and the results are pending toxicology studies.

Christopher BENVENUTO, who is currently unemployed, was charged with First Degree Strict Liability for Drug Induced Death; Second Degree Reckless Manslaughter; Third Degree Distribution of Heroin and Third Degree Hindering Apprehension.

Jessie KURZWEEL is currently employed at Buddy’s Sports Corner in Paramus. He was charged with First Degree Strict Liability for Drug Induced Death, Third Degree Distribution of Heroin, and Third Degree Possession of Heroin with the Intent to Distribute.

Bail was set for Christopher BENVENUTO and Jessie KURZWEEL by the Honorable Liliana S. DeAvila-Silebi, P.J.Cr. at $150,000.00 each, no ten percent. They were remanded to the Bergen County Jail with a first appearance scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on June 12, 2013 in Bergen County Superior Court.

The investigation is continuing at this time. Prosecutor Molinelli states that these charges are merely accusations and that the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and would like to thank the members of the Emerson and Old Tappan Police Departments for their assistance and cooperation.



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