-- The daughter of popular talk-show host April Kauffman said she had been “waiting patiently for justice” after prosecutors Tuesday said her mother had been killed nearly six years ago in an apparent murder-for-hire plot allegedly orchestrated by Kauffman's husband.
"As a victim, May 10, 2012, forever changed my life," Kim Pack said at a news conference Tuesday. "I have been waiting patiently for justice and today I was lucky enough to be granted justice."
April Kauffman, a vivacious 47-year-old Jersey Shore radio host and veterans’ rights activist, was shot and killed May 10, 2012, in the bedroom of the Linwood, New Jersey, home she shared with her husband.
"Today is a very, very difficult day for me and my family," Pack, April Kauffman's daughter from a previous marriage, said. "I think for the first time today I can actually breathe. For the past five and a half years I've felt like I've been holding my breath on a daily basis."
Atlantic County prosecutor Damon Tyner said Dr. James Kauffman, a prominent southern New Jersey endocrinologist, is facing first-degree murder and first-degree racketeering charges after he allegedly solicited a man named Ferdinand Augello to kill his wife, April Kauffman.
Kauffman has been in jail since June on other charges. Kauffman’s attorney, Ed Jacobs, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Kauffman has long maintained his innocence, saying, “Suffice it to say that Dr. Kauffman has consistently denied any involvement whatsoever in the homicide of his wife."
The racketeering charges that James Kauffman, Augello and six others arrested Tuesday now face stems from "the illegal distribution of narcotics through Kauffman's former medical practice,” according to prosecutors.
They alleged that Dr. Kauffman and Augello had set up an illegal drug distribution network for Oxycontin, and that Kauffman wanted his wife killed after she threatened to divorce him and to expose the alleged fraudulent drug network.
Prosecutors alleged that Augello, who is charged with first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and racketeering, "propositioned a number of individuals to murder April Kauffman," all of whom prosecutors said were members of the Pagans, a biker group also known as the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club.
A man named Francis Mulholland, now deceased, was the one who killed April Kauffman, shooting her twice, and received $20,000 in cash in exchange, prosecutors said.
After her 2012 death, prosecutors said the alleged illegal drug enterprise continued for another five years until Kauffman was arrested in June.
The Kauffmans’ marriage had lasted a little over a decade after the two were married on Valentine’s Day in 2003. By some accounts, the relationship had grown strained by the time April Kauffman died.
In the months leading up to April Kauffman’s death, those closest to her said she confided to them that she was planning to leave her husband.
The county prosecutor at the time reportedly said an arrest was expected in short order. But it never came. The first prosecutor left office, and his successor’s team was unsuccessful in solving the crime, but April Kauffman’s family and friends kept pushing for justice.
For five years, the case of April Kauffman grew cold. Then, Damon Tyner was named to take over the prosecutor’s office early last year and ordered a top-to-bottom review of cold cases, quickly making it a priority to solve April Kauffman's homicide.
Detectives and prosecutors went to court for an order to take the husband’s DNA. At the same time, a separate case dealing with pharmaceuticals was percolating around the country. When James Kauffman’s name popped up in that case, authorities went to his office with a search warrant June 13.
James Kauffman, apparently fearful of being arrested, pulled a Ruger 9 mm handgun on authorities, which was caught on police cameras. He threatened to kill himself and, after a standoff, was handcuffed and jailed on weapons charges and for allegedly pulling a weapon on police. He has been in jail ever since that June encounter.
Meanwhile, Tyner’s team quietly worked to build the homicide case. The charges against James Kauffman and seven other alleged accomplices were announced during a news conference late-Tuesday afternoon.