The cousin of a 62-year-old woman and her 10-year-old foster daughter who were mysteriously found dead in their New Jersey home earlier this month has been arrested and is charged with strangling them.
Prosecutors say Brian Farmer, a 58-year-old registered sex offender convicted of burning down a someone's house in 1996, also faces child pornography charges in connection with the 10-year-old victim, Veronica Roach.
The bodies of Roach and her foster mother, Joan Colbert, were found Aug. 1 in their Lippincott Avenue apartment in Long Branch. Authorities did not say at the time how they died, but the medical examiner ruled their deaths homicides. Prosecutors said Thursday they had been strangled.
Prosecutors say Colbert allegedly discovered Farmer taking pornographic pictures of the 10-year-old girl at the apartment July 30. A confrontation ensued, and Farmer allegedly killed them both. Their bodies were found two days later.
According to a criminal complaint, detectives found pornographic pictures of Roach on Farmer's phone. He allegedly made the girl engage in a "prohibited sexual act" while photographing her, as well as sexually abusing the child himself.
Roach's uncle, Brett Roach, called Farmer "an animal." He said the suspect came to the funeral for the little girl and her foster mother, gave him a hug and asked how he was doing.
Farmer was arrested Wednesday night and is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, as well as multiple counts of endangering the welfare of a child. If convicted of the top charges, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.
It wasn't clear if Farmer had an attorney.
Farmer served 13 years in East Jersey State Prison after being convicted in 1996 of aggravated sexual assault for "engaging in sexual penetration" with a 15-year-old girl while armed with a knife.
Prosecutors said Farmer tied up the girl and her mother and held them in their home for three days before the two escaped, after which he burned down their home. Farmer was also convicted of arson and aggravated assault in that case. He was released from prison in 2009.