1. Antoine LeBlanc
Hanging wasn’t good enough for him. In 1833, two weeks after arriving as an immigrant from France, farmhand LeBlanc bludgeoned to death his employers — an elderly couple in Morristown, N.J. — and butchered their slave servant. After he was captured by posse, the killer was hanged before a cheerful crowd of 10,000 witnesses. Then his body was cut up and the pieces tanned into leather goods so they could be kept as treasured souvenirs of the event. Some book covers and wallets made from LeBlanc’s hide are still kept in libraries and museums.
2. Bruno Hauptmann
Was Hauptmann guilty of the “crime of the century,” the 1932 kidnap-murder of the Lindbergh baby in Hopewell, N.J.? Almost certainly, yes. Ever since Hauptmann went to the electric chair, a legion of revisionists has been pleading the case for his innocence. But to believe that, one has to dismiss a mountain of circumstantial evidence — including ransom notes in his handwriting and ransom money in his possession — or explain them away as part of an unlikely police conspiracy.
3. George White Rogers
In 1934, the luxury liner Morro Castle went up in flames off Sea Girt, N.J., killing 134 people. Amid shocking negligence, one crewman emerged a national hero: Rogers, who stayed at his post tapping out an SOS that brought help to the survivors. But 20 years later, he was in prison, guilty of bludgeoning to death two neighbors for their money. It also turned out he was a pyromaniac with a record of arson fires. Almost certainly, he was the man who set the fire in which he became a hero.
4. Howard Unruh
Unruh achieved a grim place in history — the first “lone gunman” to go on a spectacular shooting spree in which he targeted total strangers. On Sept. 6, 1949, the 28-year-old war veteran walked up and down his street in Camden, N.J., shooting to death 13 people. Among the victims were a small boy sitting in a barber’s chair. Unruh’s perverse justification for his insane deed was that he had so many enemies in his mind, he needed to shoot everyone in order to make sure the right people died. As of this writing, he is still alive in a psych ward.
5. Carl Copppolino
Hypnosis and a novel murder weapon were among the twists in the two murder trials of Carl Coppolino that captivated America in the late ’60s. A physician from Middletown, N.J., he was accused of killing both his wife and the husband of his mistress by injecting them with a drug, succinylcholine, that paralyzes the muscles. The mistress insisted he had wooed her into adultery and murder by mesmerism. In the first trial, Coppolino won acquittal with the help of flamboyant defender F. Lee Bailey; but later he was found guilty of killing his wife.
6. John List
It took a month for police in Westfield, N.J., to discover the gruesome scene: The mother, wife, daughter and two sons of John Emil List all lying dead inside his spooky Victorian mansion. The sanctimonious List had spent months planning to kill them all, he helpfully explained in a note, because he couldn’t earn enough to support them and now “all have gone to heaven.” List disappeared into a new identity and remained on the lam for 18 years, until a broadcast of “America’s Most Wanted” led to a tip that put him in Virginia.
7. Robert Marshall
Slippery, self-centered and utterly amoral, Marshall came to embody the dark side of suburbia thanks to his sensational trial for hiring a hit man to kill his wife, Maria, in 1984. The Toms River insurance salesman gave police an unconvincing story of how a mysterious robber had shot his wife to death (and gently clubbed him on the head) at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway. Joe McGinniss’ book “Blind Faith” made Marshall infamous, but 20 years of work by defense lawyers eventually overturned his death sentence.
8. Jesse Timmendequas
In 1994, this greasy-haired, bug-eyed ex-con turned into every mother’s worst nightmare. Not long after moving into a house in Hamilton Township, N.J., with two fellow paroled sex offenders, Timmendequas raped and murdered a neighbor, 7-year-old Megan Kanka. The ugly crime led to Megan’s Law, federal and state statutes for tracking pedophiles and notifying neighbors about their presence.
9. Rabbi Fred Neulander
Talk about chutzpah — the Cherry Hill, N.J., cleric lectured regularly about the Ten Commandments while committing adultery with his female parishioners. In 1994, he took things further by putting a murder contract on his wife, Carol. A two-man hit team faked a burglary at the Neulander home, then bashed in her brains. It took nearly a decade before Neulander could be brought to justice, and it was his own son who provided some of the most damning testimony.
10. Charles Cullen
Meet the worst serial killer in New Jersey history — a nurse arrested in 2003 after committing as many as 45 killings in the hospitals and nursing homes where he worked. A depressive malcontent, Cullen made himself feel powerful by snuffing out the lives of patients who were weaker than him. Although he claimed to be an “angel of death,” a medical worker who kills because he cannot bear to see suffering, many of his victims were in fact on the road to recovery. Employer after employer kept firing him because of his poor work record, but it took 15 years for one of them (Somerset Medical Center) to notice his habits of murdering people.