FREEHOLD - Two people accused in the murder of a Linden resident who had been missing since March faced a judge Wednesday afternoon.
Monmouth County prosecutors say 33-year-old Jennifer Sweeney and 32-year-old Andre Harris were charged Tuesday with murder, desecration of human remains and evidence tampering in the death of 41-year-old Tyrita Julius.
Julius’s family and friends crowded the courtroom wearing black shirts that said “Team Tyrita.” They called Sweeney a murderer.
Julius was last seen on March 8 after having lunch with a friend. Authorities say that friend was actually Sweeney, who told police at the time that she dropped Julius off at the Long Branch train station.
Investigators say that Sweeney and Harris killed Julius, wrapped in a plastic tarp and buried her in a 3-foot-deep grave in Harris’ backyard. Prosecutor Chris Gramiccioni says that a shovel was found nearby that is believed to have been used to bury the body.
Julius had previously survived being shot multiple times while sitting in her car in November 2015. Her daughter was grazed. Officials say that Sweeney and Harris are responsible for that shooting and will face attempted murder charges in addition to their other charges.
An attorney for Sweeney says that his client is innocent.
Bail for the defendants was set at $1.5 million each.
A fundraiser will be held for funeral expenses at the Linden Multi-Purpose Center located at 1025 John Street in Linden from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Aug. 20.