The Lover’s Chair, a cliffside ledge about 200 yards from the popular Palisades Park picnic lookout area in Bergen County, Nj, was noted for its attractive view and precarious setting. Nearby signs typed the danger. A safety fence was installed to help keep people away. Still, people would visit — as well as on the night time of September 20, 1992, the place demonstrated deadly for Jody Ann Scharf.
Her husband, Stephen Scharf, told police he and Jody, 44, have been enjoying each other’s company, the vista, and portions of wine when she tumbled lower the 120-feet high cliff. He stated he yelled to his wife, who had been intoxicated when she fell, but she didn’t respond.
The Englewood Coves Fire Department taken care of immediately the phone call, based on “Accident, Suicide or Murder,” airing Saturdays at 7/6c on Archiweekend. Save workers rappelled lower the cliff to look for Jody’s body, which wasn’t found underneath the Lover’s Chair. It had been discovered 52 ft from the bottom of the high cliff, which elevated a warning sign for police.
Investigators said “it was evident” that Jody fell mind-first. Between your 10-story fall and acceleration, “you need to expect the worst,” Lt. Walter Siri, a upon the market patrolman using the Palisades Interstate Police Department, told producers. “It’s brutal.”
Jody Scharf was pronounced dead at 11:40 p.m. and her body was come to the medical examiner’s office.
Detectives asked Stephen to uncover more concerning the couple, who resided using the 10-year-old boy, Jonathan, in Hackettstown, Nj. Police found that he was an engineer, she labored for AT&T, and, with what one investigator known as a “bombshell” thought, they had a wide open marriage. Additionally they discovered Jody had lately declared divorce.
Suspicious about Stephen’s version of his wife’s fatal fall, police requested him to consider a polygraph test. The outcomes, Frederick Hornyak, a upon the market Detective Cap. using the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, told producers, indicated Stephen was being deceitful. “I felt he was laying,” Hornyak stated.
Investigators looked towards the autopsy leads to reveal what went down. Injuries were in line with that which was expected from the 10-story fall. Toxicology results showed that Jody’s bloodstream-alcohol level was .12, which supported Stephen’s claim that she’d been intoxicated when she fell.
In The month of january 1993, the reason for Jody Scharf’s dying was listed as “could ‘t be determined.” The situation went cold for any decade, until Bergen County prosecutors reopened the situation.
Although Stephen maintained his wife passively fell to her dying, investigators searched for to exhibit that they have been pressed. They’d to construct a situation and disprove it would be a romantic picnic-switched tragic accident. They dug deep in to the Scharfs’ financial records, collected testimony from family intimates, and scoured the scene where Jody’s body was discovered.
“In relation to physics individuals figures do not work,” Wayne Mello, trial prosecutor for Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, told producers. “It simply couldn’t have happened the way in which he stated it did.”
An engaging lead switched up once they learned Stephen were built with a $300,000 existence insurance plan on his wife. If she died accidentally, that payout would double. In 2003, once the documents might be processed, Stephen collected greater than $770,000.
Investigators looked to individuals in Jody’s existence to complete the blanks about her existence together with her husband. Jody’s counselor said excitedly Jody said she was scared of Stephen, who had been abusive. Close buddies echoed that relate. Jonathan Scharf, now a grownup, testified he would be a witness to his father’s mental and physical torment of his mother.
In December 2008, 16 years after Jody died, Stephen Scharf, 57, who’d remarried, was billed with murder. Per month-lengthy trial started in April 2011.
The prosecutor’s situation was largely built upon the other people stated Jody had said excitedly — “state of mind” evidence, based on Mello. It enables another person to testify to Jody’s statement. Expert witnesses for sides spoke about Jody’s fall where her body was discovered with regards to the bottom of the high cliff.
Jonathan also testified against his father. Stephen’s lawyers’ rebutted his testimony, noting he was the contingent beneficiary from the $770,000 existence insurance pay. He’d obtain the money if his father was discovered guilty.
On May 24, 2011, the jury started deliberation and came back having a verdict 2 . 5 days later. Stephen Scharf was in prison for pushing his wife from the high cliff and it was sentenced to existence imprisonment.
Scharf is constantly on the claim his innocence and it has filed multiple appeals since.
To understand more about the situation, watch “Accident, Suicide or Murder,” airing Saturdays at 7/6c on Archiweekend, or stream episodes here.