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No Charges Filed Against Woman Who Hung Dolls

A photo circulating online appears to depict stuffed dolls hanging from nooses tied to a tree above a sign for a Black candidate for Congress. Police in Middle Township confirmed to the Herald that an investigation is ongoing

By Shay Roddy

Ed. Note: A story on Page A1 of the Nov. 16 print edition was sent to press at 12 p.m. Nov. 15, before information became available that no charges would be filed in relation to the incident. The below article will be published in print Nov. 23.

RIO GRANDE – An investigation revealed that dolls hanging by their necks from a tree above a campaign sign for a Black congressional candidate was not an incident of biased intimidation, but rather something done by someone with “behavioral health issues,” according to the county prosecutor.   

In an interview with the Herald Nov. 15, Kimberly Jardo, of Rio Grande, said it was her 36-year-old daughter who hung the dolls. Jardo said her daughter suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey H. Sutherland said in a statement later that afternoon that no charges will be filed at this time. Sutherland said the candidate whose sign was involved in the display, Tim Alexander, was contacted by prosecutors and agrees with their decision to not file charges.  

Alexander told the Herald he spoke with Middle Township Police Chief Christopher Leusner and Chief of County Detectives Mike Emmer about the problems the case might have in court. 

“I respect the work that they did,” Alexander said. “If that’s the conclusion that they came up with, then we move on from here.” 

Jardo said she found out it was her daughter who was responsible for the incident when three Middle Township police officers showed up at her door over the weekend. Jardo said police wanted to know why her daughter hung the dolls.  

The 36-year-old woman responsible said on the phone call with the Herald the same thing her mother said she told investigators: “the voices in my head told me to do it.” 

Alexander said his wife works in the outpatient mental health fieldand they both hope that the woman seeks help and follows her therapy and treatments. He says with medication she probably would not have done what she did. 

“She knew it was wrong what she was doing. Otherwise, why would she say, ‘the voices in my head told me to do it’?” Alexander asked rhetorically. “There’s some underlying thing there that was born out through illness.” 

Jardo thinks it “was an enormous coincidence” that a campaign sign was near the hanging dolls and was not a factor in her daughter’s motivation. She said her daughter is not racist or political and lives in Pennsylvania but is staying at Jardo’s house in Rio Grande to help her mother with her own health issues.  

“If she would have picked a tree that had no advertisements underneath it, electoral things, what would anybody think?” Jardo asked.   

“I agree with the findings of the investigation, but that doesn’t negate what her intent was. It was just how do you prove one’s intent when they’re not perhaps in all their faculties. I just don’t accept that this was a hell of a coincidence,” said Alexander.  

Jardo said her daughter has no hate or racism in her heart and that her daughter is married to a Jamaican man who she has seven mixed-race children with. 

Jardo said days before being contacted by police, she drove by the display with her daughter, who told her to stop the car. 

“As we passed the animals, she said stop for a minute, I want to show you something. And I looked at the animals and I said, that’s nuts, why would somebody do that? And here it is she did it,” Jardo said. “I’m going to be straight up honest with you. If she would have said to me in the car, ‘Mommy, I did that,’ I would have hopped out of the car and took them down. Honestly, truthfully, that’s what I would have done.” 

Jardo said her daughter has received treatment for mental health issues from ACENDA, Jefferson Hospital and Fairmount Behavioral Health but has been off her medicine for “quite some time”.  

She said investigators asked to see some paperwork to verify her daughter’s mental health history and told her they would need to speak with federal investigators and the county prosecutor to determine the outcome.  

“This is my town. I love my town. I love my neighbors. For this to happen is just overwhelming to me,” Jardo said. “I want people to know that [my daughter] has supported this community.” 

In his statement, Sutherland said this incident was properly reported as a bias incident and was forwarded to the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice Bias Crime Unit.  

“This office has and will continue to thoroughly investigate any claims of Bias Intimidation based on race, color, religion, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, nationality or ethnicity in accordance with the strict laws in New Jersey and I encourage anyone who has witnessed an act of Bias Intimidation or feels they were a victim of any Bias Intimidation to come forward and report the incident,” Sutherland stated.  

Alexander commended the investigative work and said knowing the results of the investigation does give him some closure. “Hopefully they get the illness back in check,” he said. “She stays on her medication then we don’t have to worry about this. She’s not a person running around out there plotting the next Klan meeting.”

Thoughts? Email sroddy@cmcherald.com. 

 

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