Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio announced Friday the arrests of Shiquan Bellamy, 20, Darmelia Lawrence, 19, and Shiquan’s cousin, Latonia Bellamy, 19, both from Jersey City, in connection with the murders of the Jersey City couple Michael Muchioki and Nia Haqq six days earlier. A third suspect was also charged but the name was not released by press time Friday.
The young victims, who were engaged only five months ago, were killed around 3 a.m. Easter Sunday after an attempted carjacking near their Randolph Avenue home failed and both Muchioki and Haqq were shot twice. A funeral service for Haqq took place in Newark on Thursday and the funeral for Muchioki was held Friday.
“They complemented each other.” – Jarrett Smith
DeFazio said the investigation is ongoing.
Michael Muchioki and Nia Haqq were remembered last week as a quiet, loving couple described as “inseparable” by those who knew them.
They were killed after returning from their engagement party in New Brunswick.
Their murders were eighth and ninth so far this year in Jersey City.
DeFazio said Muchioki, 27 and Haqq, 25, were both shot after a trio of carjackers allegedly tried to rob the couple's 2010 Honda CRV, but failed because of the car's anti-theft device.
Muchioki suffered a shotgun blast to the back of his head and Haqq was shot in the back of her head with a pistol, he said. DeFazio said the couple was robbed of their personal items.
Both were found lying side by side on the sidewalk in front of their home, DeFazio said.
DeFazio also said it is believed the alleged carjackers used a semi-automatic handgun and shotgun, as spent shells from the handgun were recovered at the scene. DeFazio said the suspects fled the scene by car.
The couple was engaged in December and planned to marry in April of 2011.
Members of Muchioki’s college fraternity created a website to remember the couple: www.lovemikenia.com.
Coping with a tragic loss
Relative Jarrett Smith remembered the couple last week. He had returned to his Jersey City home from the engagement party for his cousin Michael Easter Sunday morning. Smith said he was about to go to sleep when he got a call from Michael’s sister.
“She said, ‘Get to the house right now; it’s not good,’ ” Smith said. “I just put on street clothes and drove over to their house, which is about two minutes away, and I was the first person that got to the house after the police arrived.”
When Smith got there, he saw numerous cop cars and officers. He then encountered relatives who were speechless until a cousin revealed the unimaginable.
“She said, ‘They’re gone,’ ” Smith said.
Smith was told that how the couple was killed after the attempted carjacking. The news overwhelmed Smith, who said he found himself collapsing to the ground, where he sat and cried.
After he composed himself, he told other relatives who arrived on the scene, and has been busy since then helping to organize his late cousin’s funeral.
Smith preferred to remember what he called the “perfect couple” who met during a fraternity party over five years ago. Muchioki worked for a software firm in downtown Jersey City, while Haqq worked for an affiliate for Nickelodeon.
“Mike was so easygoing, laid-back, liked being around family,” Smith said. “And Nia was the same as him. They complemented each other.”
Hoping for arrests
Neighbors living near the Randolph Avenue home are hoping the murderer(s) will be caught soon.
At the house, balloons, flowers, and candles adorned the fence.
Kevin Tucker, who lives around the corner from the couple, called their family “close-knit.”
“If you ask me, I think [the reason for the killing] is petty,” Tucker said. “If you want your own car, work hard so you can buy one.”
Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy said last week the suspects in this murder “have no regard for human life.”
Anyone with information on the murders is asked to call the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office's Homicide Squad at (201) 915-1345.