NJ councilwoman found shot to death outside of her home

SAYREVILLE, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey borough councilwoman was found shot to death in an SUV outside of her home, authorities said.

Sayreville Councilwoman Eunice Dwumfour, 30, was found at around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office. She had been shot multiple times and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Dwumfour, a Republican, was elected to her first three-year term in 2021, when she ousted a Democratic incumbent. Colleagues recalled her as a soft-spoken devout Christian who could maintain her composure in contentious situations.

“She was a 30-year-old woman. To have this happen in such a tragic way, I mean, our hearts are just broken and everybody wants an answer,” said Karen Bailey Bebert, the local GOP chairwoman who served as her campaign manager. “So we’re waiting with bated breath.”

Authorities have not made any arrests or said whether they believe the motive for the killing might be personal, political or a random act.

In a 2021 campaign interview, Dwumfour described herself as a proud graduate of Newark public schools who earned a degree in women’s studies at William Patterson University while working part-time as an EMT.

She said she moved to Parlin, a section of Sayreville, after graduating “because of the tremendous public safety work the community does.” That interest fueled her run for council, where she served as a liaison to the police department now helping to investigate her death.

“She just wanted to make a better community for all our children,” said Bebert, who served as her campaign manager.

Dwumfour, who had a school-age child, announced at a fall council meeting that she had recently gotten married, Bebert said. She was active in her church in Newark, she said.

Dwumfour worked in information technology, according to her LinkedIn page, where she posted last month that she was looking for a new opportunity. Her resume also said that she worked for six years with a religious nonprofit group.

Her next-door neighbor, Chyann Brown, said she was arriving home Wednesday evening just as police were “flying in the complex." She had no idea that Dwumfour, whom she described as kind and respectful, had been shot.

“When I came to park my car, there were shell cases everywhere. ... I (saw) the car was still rolling down the street," she said of Dwumfour's vehicle.

Brown said they had spoken over the past year, but she did not realize Dwumfour was involved in local politics.

“She’s a very nice woman. She’s always well-dressed,” she said. “I can’t believe she would be involved in such a tragic incident," Brown said.

Several high-ranking state leaders, including Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, issued statements expressing their grief over her death. John Wisniewski, a former Democratic state Assembly member from Sayreville, had spoken to her at a few council meetings.

“Almost always her comments were about God, divine providence. She was a woman of faith,” Wisniewski said.

Bebert described Dwumfour as an outgoing person who "always had that beautiful smile on her face that you see in her picture.”

Sayreville, a borough of roughly 45,000 people, is about 30 miles (about 48.2 kilometers) south of Manhattan. At the scene Thursday, another car in the parking lot had damage apparently sustained when Dwumfour’s car struck it.

Bebert described Sayreville as a peaceful community and said Dwumfour lived in an attractive complex near an elementary school. She hopes to organize a vigil to celebrate what she called “a life cut too short by such a heinous criminal act.”

“She was so young,” she said. “It's just rippling through the town.”

___ Dale reported from Philadelphia. Associate Press reporters Bruce Shipkowski in Toms River, New Jersey, and Mike Catalini in Trenton, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

Maryclaire Dale And Ted Shaffrey, The Associated Press