NJ man found guilty of beating mother to death, prosecutor says
A Plainfield man was found guilty of beating his mother to death in a home they shared, authorities announced Wednesday.
According to action Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park, a Union County jury has returned guilty verdicts against John Quackenbush, 47, of Plainfield.
The prosecutor said that on Feb. 24, 2013, Plainfield Police went to Quackenbush's home on a welfare check after his 69-year-old mother, Gail Vandewalle, hadn't had contact with friends or family. When officers arrived at the Watson Avenue home, they found Vandewalle's body under a blanket, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Scott Peterson and Derek Nececkas, who prosecuted the case.
An autopsy was conducted by by the Union County Medical Examiner which determined that "Vandewalle died of blunt-force trauma to the head caused by a 12-pound dumbbell," the prosecutor said in a press release.
Following an investigation by the Union County Homicide Task Force and Plainfield police, Quackenbush was arrested on Feb. 25 at a Green Brook motel. He was taken into custody and held on $1 million bail.
Quackenbush was convicted of first-degree murder as well as two related second-degree weapons offenses. He was also convicted of third-degree theft. The convictions came after a three-week trial before NJ Superior Court Judge Regina Caulfield.
Quackenbush is scheduled for sentencing on March 18. If convicted of first degree murder, he faces life in prison. Sentencing in the case has been scheduled for March 18, 2016 before Judge Caulfield. Convictions on first-degree murder charges result in sentences of up to life in state prison.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor for news at NJ 101.5. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.