Newark – A 31-year-old man has been found guilty of murdering two children and a young woman, in a horrific armed home invasion prompted by a social media post, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Jeremy Arrington was convicted on Friday of three counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder, after a ten-day jury trial in Essex County Superior Court.

The children, 7-year-old Ariel Little Whitehurst and her 11-year-old brother, Al-Jahon Whitehurst, were stabbed to death by Arrington, while 23-year-old Syasia McBurroughs was shot to death, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens said.

First responders were able to save the lives of three others in the home who had also been stabbed by Arrington — a 13-year-old male and a 13-year-old female, who are twins, and a 29-year-old female.

They were hospitalized after the attack.

Arrington was also convicted of burglary, criminal restraint, unlawful possession of a handgun, unlawful possession of a knife and possession of a handgun and a knife for an unlawful purpose.

Whitehurst Family Support Fund (Joanna Belcher via GoFundMe)
Young victims, Ariel Little Whitehurst, Al-Jahon Whitehurst (Joanna Belcher via GoFundMe)

Wanted man

At the time of the deadly home invasion, Arrington was already wanted on unrelated sexual assault and aggravated assault charges from a month earlier, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said one of the stabbing victims had shared to Facebook an alert about the earlier attack.

On Nov. 5, 2016, Arrington unlawfully entered the Whitehurst home on Hedden Terrace while armed with a loaded gun, according to prosecutors, where he tied up everyone he found inside and attacked them with kitchen knives.

He shot McBurroughs to death, Stephens said.

Both children were pronounced dead at University Hospital.

Newark murder victim, Syasia McBurroughs (Trenace McBurroughs via GoFundMe)
Newark murder victim, Syasia McBurroughs (Trenace McBurroughs via GoFundMe)

Police were able to respond before more lives were lost as a result of a young girl with autism who escaped and called for help from her phone in a closet, according to Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Justin Edwab.

Arrington ran from the scene but was arrested by police the following day, after being barricaded in a home on Pomona Avenue.

"As long as he is on the street none of us are safe," Newark Mayor Ras Baraka had said at a news conference following the killings, before Arrington was found.

“We are forever grateful to the courageous survivors and witnesses who testified as well as the investigative personnel who helped bring this defendant to justice," Edwab said in a written statement. "Hopefully this verdict will bring some form of justice to all of the families and friends affected by this defendant’s horrific actions.”

Young Ariel was a second grader at KIPP Seek Academy at the time of her death, while her brother Al-Jahon was a fifth grader at BRICK Peshine Academy, both in Newark, according to a GoFundMe campaign setup by Joanna Belcher to support surviving family members.

Syasia McBurroughs "especially loved children while her goal was to graduate college and teach youngsters," according to a separate GoFundMe campaign setup by her grieving mother, Trenace McBurroughs.

Arrington faces multiple life sentences when sentenced on April 8.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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