ELIZABETH, NJ — Police have learned that a man they’ve been seeking for more than two decades in the murder of his girlfriend died the same week he is suspected of killing her.
“This means this case is now closed,” Union County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Mark Spivey told LocalSource on Aug. 22.
Fingerprints of an unidentified man killed in Elizabeth when he was struck by a vehicle in 1993 were submitted to the New Jersey State Police later that year and then to the FBI in 2006, but results did not produce a match to any known person.
It was not until recently that Donna Fontana, a New Jersey State Police forensic anthropologist, entered the fingerprints to the National Institute of Justice’s National Missing and Unidentified Person System database that the prints came back as a match to Wilmane Nicolas, the most wanted suspect in the 1993 murder of Magalie Francois.
On the morning of Oct. 28, 1993, authorities reported that an adult male was killed by a vehicle in the area of U.S Routes 1 & 9 and East Grand Street in Elizabeth. The man did not have any identification on him and, despite an investigation to confirm his identity, he remained unknown, according to the Union County Prosecutor’s Office.
Two days after the John Doe was killed, the body of Francois was found on the 600 block of Monroe Avenue in Elizabeth. The autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed numerous times and beaten about the head.
The Elizabeth Police Department sought Nicolas of Elizabeth, Francois’ boyfriend at the time, as a suspect in the homicide. A warrant for his arrest was issued in January 1994, and he was placed on the Union County Sheriff’s Office Most Wanted List.
While the case is unusual, Spivey highlighted two others in which the Homicide Task Force had identified suspects in crimes many years after the fact.
The cases were similar not only in the relentless investigative work but in that they involved violence against women.
Carlton Franklin, 57, was arrested and found guilty five years ago for the 1976 rape and murder of Lena Triano of Westfield after Agent Vinnie Byron and Sgt. Harvey Barnwell of the Homicide Task Force discovered forensic evidence that was tested with modern investigative techniques.
Triano, who lived alone at Ripley Place in Westfield, had been discovered hog-tied, raped, strangled, beaten and stabbed more than 35 years beforehand, when Franklin was just 15 years old. This required prosecutors to present the case to the Union County Juvenile Court and Franklin was tried as a minor for the crime.
In another case, Dorian Gillon was arrested and charged eight years after the 2005 homicide of Williametta Moore of Plainfield. She was found beaten and strangled just inside the front door of her residence on West Third Street in Plainfield on Dec. 15. 2005.
At the time, Gillon lived in the same neighborhood.
HTF investigators worked closely with the biologists at the county’s forensics laboratory to examine previously collected DNA evidence, which led them to Gillon.
Gillon was indicted in 2014, and his trial is pending.