Investigators working on the 30-year-old unsolved murder of Emily “Cissy” Stuart, a resident of the Princeton township, recently revealed that they have long had two primary suspects in the case: two men who were teenaged University students at the time and familiar with Stuart.
On April 2, 1989, Stuart, who had helped her family establish the weekly Town Topics newspaper, was stabbed to death in the cellar of her home on Mercer Street. Her body was found two days later. She was 74 years old.
The initial suspect was a young Haitian immigrant with no relation to Stuart. Although he was charged with a series of knife assaults in the township at around the same time, he was later dismissed in the Stuart case because the evidence surrounding the case “did not support a random crime.”
According to a 2006 police statement, the door to the cellar was locked, the gardening tools that Stuart was using when she was last seen alive were neatly ordered, and no weapon was found on the scene — all of which indicate that the murder was premeditated and committed by someone familiar with Stuart’s home.
Although the police said little to nothing about Stuart’s death over the next decade and a half, interest in her case did not completely disappear, even as the case grew ever colder. In 2003, Anthony Federico, then a captain of the Princeton Borough Police, launched a serious effort to solve Stuart’s murder by collaborating with the FBI violent crimes task force in Trenton.
The case file is now the mission of the current chief of the Princeton Police, Nick Sutter, who took it over from Federico in 2009. According to Sutter, it has remained active ever since, but the police have continued to say very little about their progress on the matter.
Marketing agency NJ Advance Media recently learned from anonymous law enforcement sources that investigators involved with the Stuart have suspected the two University alumni for years. NJ Advance Media has chosen to keep these suspects anonymous for the time being because they have not been charged with any crimes.
It is believed that the suspects’ familiarity with Stuart may have allowed them to gain access into her home and surprise her in the cellar. The exact motive for why they would have done so, however, remains unclear. No arrests have been made for the case, primarily because of the lack of evidence implicating anyone at all.
Sutter declined to discuss the suspects in any more detail with The Daily Princetonian.
Princeton Police Department Detective Darwin Kieffer will soon join forces with the investigative team in the latest attempt to bring charges.
If the University alumni under investigation are ever arrested and convicted for Stuart’s murder, they will join the ranks of former student Joseph Menendez and Jeffrey MacDonald ’65 as individuals affiliated with the University who have also been involved in high-profile homicide cases.
Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said in an interview with NJ.com that he remains optimistic about solving Stuart’s murder.
“I believe that someone is out there with the lead or piece of information law enforcement needs to advance the case to a successful conclusion,” Onofri said in the interview.
Charles Stuart, Emily Stuart’s son, created an HBO documentary about the life and murder of his mother, entitled “My Mother’s Murder.”