Charged with the murder on Wednesday was Thomas Kempf - often called "J.J." by friends - the 20-year-old son of Schoch's one-time girlfriend.
According to Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio, Kempf is being held on car theft charges in Dunn, N.C., where he was apprehended on Jan. 18.
Kempf allegedly fled Secaucus after the crime and was later was arrested with a .38 caliber pistol and Schoch's car in North Carolina. Police there apparently ran the plates to the vehicle and found that it was being sought in connection with the murder investigation.
North Carolina police discovered Kempf sleeping in the car, and held him on charges of receiving stolen property and illegal possession of a firearm. Several sources said Schoch had loaned the car to Kempf's mother.
DeFazio said the pistol was found on the floor of the vehicle in a plastic bag. The weapon was not registered, he said.
"We believe it is the murder weapon, but we have not yet tested it," he said. "It was not registered and we are investigating now as to how Mr. Kempf acquired it."
DeFazio said the weapon may have been stolen.
Charges against Kempf have been filed in Hudson County, but DeFazio said Kempf has not yet made up his mind whether or not to return to New Jersey voluntarily. He said Kempf's family has hired an attorney.
"We're just waiting to see if he will come voluntarily or if we have to go through the extradition process," DeFazio said.
Schoch had apparently dated Kempf's mother. According to several sources, Schoch had taken Kempf under his wing as a kind of adopted son. DeFazio said there was "some bad blood" between Schoch and Kempf, but did not elaborate.
At the scene of the crime
Schoch, 55, was found dead by his landlord on Friday, Jan. 17, moments after the shooting. Schoch was apparently on the telephone with his place of employment when shot.
Schoch's landlord, Walter Moss, who discovered the body, said he heard what he could only describe as "whipping sounds" about 5 p.m. from upstairs and then heard something crash - a lamp, as it turned out.
"I put on my robe and went out to the hall and I yelled up the stairs, 'Greg? Are you all right?' Moss recounted. "I heard a mumble, but I couldn't make out what was said."
Moss, who is out on disability after being struck by a car, noticed that the apartment door was open a couple of inches and pushed it open - at which point he saw the victim's feet.
"There was a pile of blood," he said. "I used to work on an ambulance in Union City so I knew how to check for a pulse. He had no pulse and he wasn't breathing. So I called to my wife to bring me a telephone."
While on the telephone with the police, Moss said he saw something in the corner of his eye. He had looked in the kitchen and bedroom before that, but had not seen anyone. He said that turning, he saw a figure shove open the door and run out.
"He must have been hiding in the bathroom shower," Moss said, conjecturing that his shout from below earlier had scared the perpetrator.
"I did not see a gun," he said. "Otherwise I might have chased him harder and might have been in trouble myself." Moss said he did pursue the fleeing figure to the front door. "He stopped in the middle of the street, turned around and looked at me."
According to one police source who wished to remain unnamed, a witness suggested that Kempf may have run down the street to Schopman Terrace, where he flagged down someone he knew and hitched a ride to his mother's house - where he allegedly took the car Schoch had lent his mother and fled the area.
Police, not knowing if the suspect was still in the north end of Secaucus, closed down the area and began an extensive search, interviewing people driving through.
"Whether he fled the area before the police closed it off or hid out and fled later, no one knows," one official said.
Not at work
As a result of an investigation, police responded to Kempf's house and found him gone. Kempf, scheduled to report to his job at Natoli's Deli, had not shown up there. The police immediately reported the car as stolen.
At about 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18, police in Dunn, N.C. discovered the car and found Kempf asleep inside it.
Deputy Mayor John Reilly, liaison to the Secaucus police department, said the local police secured the local crime scene, but are not allowed under law to investigate the murder.
"The prosecutor's office handles these cases," Reilly said. "What our department does is make certain that no one disturbs anything. In that regard and in the case of seeking to find the suspect, our police department did a very professional job."
Under a 1984 directive from the county prosecutor, a county-wide homicide task force was established. Under directive, municipal police officers at the scene of a suspected murder may take no action without the prosecutor's consent, except to cordon off the area and gather witnesses. When a homicide has been committed, two investigators from the prosecutor's office and an assistant prosecutor come to the crime scene and take command. The assistant prosecutor will provide legal advice on body removal and search and seizure questions. All reports are turned over and kept in the possession of the prosecutor's office.
Schoch known in the community
The murder has shocked people throughout town, especially people who knew the family.
"This was an old Secaucus family from the Back Road," said Bob Zibowich, who had been relatively close to Schoch's two sons, one of whom graduated from the New York City police academy this month.
Schoch, employed by Mayor Dennis Elwell's trucking firm, was the descendant of a longtime Secaucus family, and was recently part of the dedication of the new town library which could be seen from his living room window. Schoch's father, Charles "Pep" Schoch, had the distinction of being the longest surviving firefighter in the Washington Hook and Ladder Company on County Avenue.
His family at one time owned a significant parcel of property along Penhorn Avenue off Secaucus Road.
"I used to walk with Pep in the mall," said shocked Board of Education member Tom Troyer last week. "He was an old pig farmer who sold his land off in the south end of town. He was a great guy, and I know a few of his kids played sports."
Schoch recently dedicated a plaque to the library in memory of his father and mother.
"He seemed like a soft-spoken man," Library Director Katherine Steffens recalled.
Schoch had lived in the Maple Street apartment for less than a year, although Moss said he had known Schoch for over 35 years.
Several people said they recalled Schoch's younger days as a member of the Gypsies motorcycle gang.
Bill Sheehan said he knew Schoch from gang days, recalling that the club had houses at various locations over several decades during the 1960s and 1970s including Weehawken, Jersey City and Union City.
"I saw a lot of Greg when I was a musician playing clubs in Union City back in the early 1970s," Sheehan said, saying the gang and Schoch were often involved in fights. "I've known him since we went to kindergarten, but I'm not surprised by his untimely demise."
Schoch, according to several sources, was also involved with the union hall near Summit Avenue in Union City, although no one knew for certain what he precise jobs were.
Schoch, a large, muscular man about six-foot-six and weighing about 330 pounds - according to officials connected with the local courts - had had some brushes with the law over the years, but the details were not available.
Town Administrator Anthony Iacono said the murder appeared to be more the result of a domestic dispute than a random burglary or a crime that other residents might need to worry about.
"While this is not something good, at least we have less concerns for the safety of the community," he said. "If this had been a breaking and entering and someone got shot, I would be much more worried."
Moss said that Schoch had made little fuss, and though sometimes had visitors and friends to the three-room apartment, including his two sons, he rarely made much noise.
"He was such a fine tenant that I eventually gave him space in the back for his Harley," Moss said, referring to Schoch's recently purchased Harley-Davison motorcycle. "I remember how he hugged me when I put up a sign saying this space was reserved for the Harley. He was very touched. He was a gentleman. He sometimes took out the trash and shoveled the walks. He always paid his rent on time."
Moss - whose will likely testify in the murder trial placing Kempf at the scene of the crime - said Schoch had taken Kempf under his wing to help the boy, making the alleged murder that much more of a mystery.
"The boy had some troubles of his own," Moss recalled.
While prosecutors said there may have been "bad feelings" between the two, others said Moss went out of his way to help Kempf.
"He had a soft heart," recalled Mayor Dennis Elwell, whose trucking firm employed Schoch.