The man accused of killing a Cranford mother faces additional charges and the possibility of life without parole if convicted, the Union County Prosecutor's Office said Friday.
Matthew Ballister III, 43, of Union Township is charged with
first-degree felony murder, first-degree kidnapping, two counts of second-degree
desecration of human remains, and single counts of second-degree burglary,
second-degree hindering apprehension, third-degree criminal restraint,
third-degree hindering apprehension, and third-degree making terroristic
threats in addition to his initial first-degree murder charge, according to the
If convicted, Ballister could face life in prison without
parole, the prosecutor’s office said. His bail amount was also increased by
$3.5 million and now stands at a total of $5.5 million.
Ballister is being charged in connection with the Oct. 22 killing of his
girlfriend, April Wyckoff, of Cranford. Wyckoff, 43, is believed to have been killed from blunt-force trauma. Wyckoff, who divorced her husband in 2010, graduated from Cranford High School and recently moved back to town with her 23-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter.
Wyckoff was described by a friend as a funny woman who found happiness with her children.
Ballister pleaded not guilty Monday in his
first court appearance in Elizabeth in
front of Judge Joan Robinson Gross, according to NJ.com.
Ballister's mother, Eleanor Schofield, 70, of Mountainside, was released from Union County Jail Friday on $1,500 bail, according to NJ.com. Schofield has been charged with hindering apprehension for allegedly helping her son conceal evidence following the killing, the prosecutor's office said.
On Monday, authorities discovered Wyckoff’s remains in the Passaic River off of Raymond Boulevard in Newark, but they continue to search for further remains, Mark Spivey, a spokesman for the Union County Prosecutor’s office said.
Authorities searched all of last weekend for Wyckoff's body in parts of Hudson, including at Liberty State Park, Essex and Union counties. According to Spivey, the search areas for the additional remains include those counties, including parts of Jersey City and Newark.