Three people found dead in Irvington

Suspect allegedly confessed to police
February 13, 2008 3:38:10 PM PST
Three people were found apparently stabbed to death Wednesday in an Irvington apartment, authorities said.The bodies were found after a 22-year-old Irvington man walked into a Newark police precinct and confessed to a triple homicide at an apartment about 2 1/2 miles from the police station, Newark police said.

The suspect has been identified as Rakeem Gartrell, of Irvington.

Police went to an apartment near Garden State Parkway exit 144 and found two women and a man who appeared to have been stabbed to death, Irvington Police Michael Chase said.

The victims were identified as 22-year-old Latoya Thomas, a mother of two and Gartrell's girlfriend, and her parents, Leroy Cooper and Elsie Thomas.

The bodies were found on the second floor of a two-family home, and the apartment was locked, Chase said.

Gartrell is charged with three counts of murder and two counts of weapons offenses. His bail was set at $1 million.

Jesse Edwards, who has lived across the street for about 25 years, said he did not know who lived in the house.

"Each one they rented, they never stayed there" long, said Edwards, a retired sanitation worker.