Two suspects have been charged with the tragic murder of Debra Derrick, a Newark, N.J. woman who was fatally shot as she was celebrating her 63rd birthday.
This week, authorities finally charged 21-year-old Jonathan Ritchie and his brother 19-year-old Josiah Ritchie for the shooting incident– more than a year after Derrick’s death. On March 11, 2021, Derrick was standing on her front porch in Newark when she was killed on the night of her birthday at around 8 P.M., the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office reported. Sadly, Derrick was releasing a few balloons in the air in honor of her late twin sister when she was caught in the crossfire. Her sister had passed away seven years earlier due to an asthma attack, NJ.com noted.
“She was making sure that everybody was safe,” her sister Ramona Derrick told the NJ Advance Media, noting that “she was pushing” her “two granddaughters in the door,” when the scary incident unfolded.
The Ritchie brothers were charged with conspiracy to commit murder and weapons-related offenses. Officials said Derrick wasn’t the intended target, PEOPLE reported.
Ramona described her sister as a “very pleasant person.” For seven years, Derrick worked at the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center tending to patients as a certified nursing assistant before leaving on disability prior to her death. “She always welcomed people to a meal. Always had an open heart,” Ramona Derrick shared of her sister’s beautiful spirit, adding that they were very close and that the mother of three had an “unbreakable” bond with her children.
Authorities were able to track down the Ritchie brothers after the Essex County Sheriff’s Crime Stoppers announced a $25,000 cash reward for tips on information about the shooting. The two brothers, who were previously living in Atlanta, are now being held in custody at the Essex County Correctional Facility.
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