LONG BRANCH - The biological mother of a 10-year-old girl found dead inside a Long Branch apartment with the woman who was raising her says she is devastated by the loss.
Jasmine Roach tells News 12 New Jersey that a colleague gave her the news Friday about her little girl's death. "I literally dropped to my knees," she says.
Monmouth County prosecutors say the deaths were ruled homicides on Sunday, two days after Long Branch police found the bodies of 62-year-old Joan Colbert and her 10-year-old foster daughter, Veronica Roach. Officers had gone to the Lippincott Avenue residence after receiving a 911 call about suspicious circumstances at the site.
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Roach says Colbert, a family friend, started caring for Veronica as an infant. "I was young at the time, needed a lot of help," she says. "I just had my oldest daughter and she was willing to help."
The mother of five says Colbert wanted to adopt Veronica, who they nicknamed Binky, but she didn't have the heart to sign off. She says Colbert always allowed her to stay a part of Veronica's life, something for which she is very grateful.
"I couldn't ask for a better person to watch her than myself," Roach says.
The Roach family says they want answers. In the meantime, they are planning a fundraiser later this month at the Red Bank Elks Lodge to help pay for her final expenses.
Prosecutors have not released further details on the deaths, citing the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Richard Chapman, of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, at 732-577-8700 or Detective Ross Zotti, of the Long Branch Police Department, at 732-222-1000.