A year after NJ cop killed wife, public still pressing authorities for answers
FREEHOLD — A year after Neptune police Sgt. Philip Seidle shot his ex-wife to death on an Asbury Park street, two friends of Tamara Seidle held a memorial outside of the Monmouth County Courthouse hoping to shed light on what they call a “corrupt and rotten” judicial system.
On June 16, 2015, the suspended Neptune officer fired a total of 12 shots before killing his recently-divorced ex-wife in front of their 7-year-old daughter. Philip Seidle admitted to killing Tamara Seidle as part of a plea deal reached May 10.
A week after Tamara Seidle's death, the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office announced it would conduct the internal investigation into how the Neptune and Asbury Park police departments handled the shooting. But authorities have not yet released the report nearly a year later.
Rachel Alintoff and Patrice Lenowitz, anti-domestic violence activists who organized the memorial, had communicated with Tamara Seidle in the days leading up to her death. They believe the shooting could have been avoided if the Neptune police and the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office had intervened.
Shortly after marrying Philip Seidle and up to the couple's May 27, 2015, divorce, Tamara Seidle made 21 domestic violence reports to the Neptune police department, according to records obtained by NJ Advance Media. In her 2013 divorce complaint, Tamara Seidle claimed that Philip Seidle had once pointed a gun at her head, kicked her while she was pregnant and punched her in the face.
Philip Seidle's two temporary suspensions prior to the shooting should have been seen by authorities as red flags, Alintoff said. He was suspended in 2012 for marital problems and in 2014 after police were notified about the couple's child custody dispute.
Alintoff says Tamara Seidle told her that the court coerced her into dropping a temporary restraining order against her husband, claiming it would "interfere with his ability to make a living." Tamara Seidle's request for a Final Restraining Order was rejected by Judge Justsus, Alintoff said.
"Judge Justus was well aware that Philip Seidle had in the past put a gun to Tamara Seidle's head, that he had kicked her while she was pregnant," Alintoff said. "I believe there was no oversight because (Philip Seidle) was being protected not only by the courthouse but by his fellow police officer peers and that his career and reputation took precedent over the life of a loving mother of nine children."
Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gamiccioni defended the length of the investigation last week.
"A review of this magnitude requires diligence and thoughtful rigor, not perfunctory release at the expense of thoroughness," Gramiccioni said. "As soon as the review and its findings and recommendations are finalized, they will be shared with the public.”
Alintoff and Lenowitz say the Seidle shooting is just one example of the Monmouth County Courthouse's bias in favor of men in family court cases. In January 2012, Monmouth Superior Court Judge Paul X. Escandon awarded custody of three children to confessed mob killer Nicholas Pisciotti.
On May 17, Gov. Chris Christie renominated Escandon, whose seven-year appointment is coming to a close. But the Senate Judiciary Committee a week later held a three-hour hearing for Escandon, who took fire from lawmakers over the custody case. The vote was postponed to June 20.
"Tamara Seidle is not the first woman to be murdered in the last two years because of egregious acts and decisions made by a judge sitting in the Monmouth County Courthouse," Alintoff said.