Fugitive wanted for homicide and unrelated DV assault apprehended in New York

An Elizabeth man wanted for violently assaulting a relative and murdering a stranger in unrelated incidents taking place this summer has been tracked down and apprehended, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo and Elizabeth Police Department Chief Giacomo Sacca and Director Earl Graves jointly announced Saturday.

Oliver I. Tzarax-Lopez, 20, is charged with first-degree murder, two related second-degree weapons offenses, third-degree domestic violence-related aggravated assault, and third-degree strangulation.

At approximately 2:35 a.m. on Sunday, June 28, members of the Elizabeth Police Department responded to a report of suspicious activity in the area of East Broad Street and North Broad Street in the city’s downtown and found an adult female who had sustained severe head injuries, according to Union County Homicide Task Force Supervisor and Assistant Prosecutor Scott M. Peterson, who is prosecuting the case. The woman, later identified as Newark resident Nohora C. Agudelo, 37, was pronounced dead at the scene, and a subsequent autopsy revealed that her manner of death was homicide, with blunt-force trauma the cause.

An investigation led by the Homicide Task Force and assisted by the Elizabeth Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit resulted in Tzarax-Lopez being identified as a suspect in the case, and he was criminally charged on Wednesday, August 5, at which time his whereabouts remained unknown.

Several days earlier, on Saturday, August 1, members of the Elizabeth Police Department responded to an apartment on the 500 block of South Broad Street, where they found an adult female who had sustained an injury to her neck. The investigation into this incident revealed that Tzarax-Lopez had propositioned the woman, a relative, for sex, and when she refused, he choked and physically attacked her before fleeing the scene on foot.

Tzarax-Lopez remained at large until shortly before noon on Thursday, August 27, at which time members of the Prosecutor’s Office, assisted by representatives of the New York City Police Department and U.S. Marshals Service, arrested him at a diner in the Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan. He remains in custody in New York City pending extradition back to New Jersey.

“This week’s arrest is a testament to the tenacity and commitment to justice of an extraordinary team of investigators who simply would not allow themselves to rest until a violent offender was taken off our streets,” Prosecutor Ruotolo said. “This was a painstaking investigation and I want to commend each and every one of the lawyers and officers involved for their efforts.”

The Prosecutor and her team would like to recognize the efforts of Elizabeth Police Department Detectives Jorge Joaquim and Carmine Giannetta, as well as retired Detective Matthew Glackin, now a security guard for Elizabeth Public Schools, for their invaluable assistance in this investigation.

Anyone with further information about Ms. Agudelo’s death is still urged to contact Prosecutor’s Office Sgt. Christopher Scuorzo at 908-472-0492 or Detective Lamar Hartsfield at 908-451-1873.

Convictions on criminal charges of this nature are commonly punishable by sentences of up to life in state prison.

These criminal charges are mere accusations. Every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.