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Update: Murder Suspect Had Been Released From Halfway House on Domestic Violence Charges on Tuesday

 

PATERSON, NJ –  Latasha Smith tried to save herself. In September, the Butler Street resident filed domestic violence charges against her career-criminal boyfriend and obtained a court order barring him from having contact with her. Police say she told the convicted killer their relationship was over.

But authorities say Raheem Jones would not stay away. On Wednesday, a day after he was released from a halfway house in Newark where he had been confined because of domestic violence charges she filed against him, police say Jones stabbed Smith to death.

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Jones, 34, who previously served a six-year prison term for killing a Paterson man while playing with a shotgun in 2002, was ordered to serve a three-month sentence at the Logan Hall halfway house after Smith brought the domestic violence charges against him on September 11, according to state parole board officials.

Jones, who remains at large, completed his term at Logan Hall and was released on Tuesday, said Larry Gregorio, deputy executive director of the parole board. Jones remained on parole and was supposed to be staying at his grandmother's home on E. 18th Street in Paterson, Gregorio said. 

One of the conditions of Jones' parole was that he not have contact with Smith, Gregorio said. City police say she had decided to end their relationship. But authorities say Jones went to her apartment at 156 Butler sometime before 7 pm on Wednesday and stabbed her multiple times. He has been charged with murder.

Authorities described Jones as a black male with a muscular build, 5’6”, with a short wavy hair cut, facial hair. He has tattoos on his forearms, under his left eye and neck.  He was last seen wearing black ACG sneakers, blue jeans and a black long sleeve shirt with “Burberry” design patches on the elbows. Police say Jones should be considered dangerous and anyone who sees him should call 911 immediately.

Police said Jones is known to frequent the area of Park Avenue and E. 18th Street, Warren and E. 18th streets and the area of 10th Avenue and E. 22nd Street.  Jones also has ties to Baltimore Maryland. 

Jones had been incarcerated from July 2002 until March 2009 in the July 16, 2002 killing of Robert Gass in an apartment at 17 Church Street, officials said. Jones' parole files say he had been playing with a shotgun, pointed it at Gass and it went off, killing him. He was convicted of manslaughter.
 
In 2011, Jones was assigned to another Newark halfway house because he failed to report for parole visits stemming from the manslaughter conviction, officials said. But Jones left the halfway house without permission and ended up being incarcerated in the Passaic County jail for nine months because of that parole violation, officials said.
 
Jones was released from jail on April 13 and apparently stayed out of trouble for five months before Smith filed the domestic violence charge against him in September, officials said.
 
State corrections records also show Jones has been convicted and incarcerated  for an aggravated assault in 2002, drug charges in 2002 and receiving stolen property in 1998. Jones committed the 1998 crimes a month before his 20th birthday, state records show. 

On Wednesday, Paterson Police Officer Daniel Loffio went to 156 Butler Street at about 7 pm in response to  a call about a stabbing. Smith’s adult daughter directed Loffio to a second floor apartment where he found Smith covered in blood from multiple stab wounds, according to police.

Emergency medical personnel responded and took her to the hospital, but were unable to save her life, police said. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Ella Jackson, a neighbor of Smith's, described the victim as a "very nice" woman. Jackson said Smith was quiet and seemed very close to her adult children. Jackson said she believed Smith worked as a nurse's aide at a nursing home in Wayne.

A makeshift shrine of five candles was set up outside Smith's on Thursday.

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