Man accused of murdering missing woman also coached teen girls softball
LINDEN — The man charged with the murder of Tyrita Julius of Linden was a former Middlesex County softball coach who was also accused of using a stolen credit card during a team trip.
Julius had been missing for months — a disappearance made all the more mysterious because she'd been shot multiple times months earlier, and survived. Authorities did not name any suspects in that shooting at the time.
Andre Harris of Long Branch was a coach of the New Jersey Thunder girls traveling softball team, which was based in Monroe Township, several years ago, according to NJ Advance Media. The program serves girls and women ages 13 to 23.
During his time as coach Harris was accused of using a stolen Discover card in 2011 to pay for $10,000 worth of hotel rooms at Disney World while the team was playing a tournament in Orlando.
Tony Wilcenski, director of recreation at the Monroe Township Recreation Department, told the news organization the team was not part of the recreation department and said he never had any problems with Harris.
Fundraising efforts continue for Julius' funeral, which includes a Go Fund Me page and a fundraiser over the weekend held by the Ruff Riders, a motorcycle club Juilus belonged to.
"The outpouring of love and support was truly overwhelming. We thank you all for showing us how much love you have for Tyrita. She will always be in our hearts, so when you need a smile or pick-me-up just remember her sweet smile," Julius' sister Bernadine wrote on the Go Fund Me page.
Tyrita's memorial is planned for Saturday at 4 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on Dill Avenue in Linden.
Harris and Julius' friend, Jennifer Sweeney, 32, of Tinton Falls are both being held at Monmouth County Correctional Institution with bail set at $1.5 million for each. They were charged by Monmouth prosecutors with first-degree murder, second-degree desecration of human remains and fourth-degree and tampering of physical evidence.
Julius was discovered last week, buried in the backyard of a Harris' Long Branch home.
Additionally, prosecutors have said the two were responsible for a 2015 shooting in which a gunman pumped several rounds into Julius and shot at her young daughter, grazing her, as the two sat in their car in front of their Linden home.