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Two Brothers Fatally Shot 63-YO Woman on Her Birthday While She Was Releasing Balloons for Late Twin Sister

Two Brothers Fatally Shot 63-YO Woman on Her Birthday While She Was Releasing Balloons for Late Twin Sister

She was killed while rushing to protect her grandkids from gunfire, said her sister Ramona Derrick in an interview last year.

Two brothers in New Jersey have been charged with the murder of a 63-year-old woman.

According to a statement from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office, Debra Derrick was murdered on March 11, 2021, more than a year ago. Debra Derrick, who worked as a certified nursing assistant, was celebrating her 63rd birthday and releasing balloons standing on the porch of her home to honor her twin sister who had died seven years ago. On the same night she was fatally shot around 8 p.m., reports PEOPLE. 



 

 

Derrick's sister Ramona Derrick stated in an interview last year that her sister was killed while rushing to protect her grandkids from gunfire. She said, "She was caught in the crossfire. She was making sure that everybody was safe. She was pushing the two granddaughters in the door." Ramona added, "She was a very pleasant person. She always welcomed people to a meal. Always had an open heart."

The suspected shooters were identified as Jonathan Ritchie, 21, and his brother Josiah Ritchie, 19. They face charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes, per NJ Advance Media. Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens II and Newark Public Safety Director Brian A. O’Hara said in a joint statement, "The two shooters were identified as brothers living with their mother and stepfather."



 

 

The motive of the shooting is unknown and Prosecutor’s office spokeswoman Katherine Carter confirmed that Derrick was not the target of the attack that night. Authorities had previously urged the public for assistance in solving the crime, and the Essex County Sheriff's Crime Stoppers program was giving a $25,000 prize for information leading to any arrests. No prize money has been awarded for the arrests of the Ritchie brothers.

The Ritchie brothers were being detained at the Essex County Correctional Facility, according to officials. They have not currently made any pleas of the charges against them. The prosecutor's office has stated that these are stil accusations and the brothers will be tried lawfully in court. 

References:

https://www.nj.com/essex/2022/04/two-men-charged-with-killing-nj-grandmother-during-birthdayer-celebration.html

https://people.com/crime/brothers-charged-shooting-death-new-jersey-grandmother/

Cover Image Source: Debbra Derrick/Facebook