Watch CBS News

Trial Begins For Mother Accused In 1991 Cold-Case Murder Of Son In New Jersey

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- A quarter century ago, a 5-year-old boy disappeared from a carnival in New Jersey, and he turned up dead about a year later in an industrial complex.

On Wednesday, his mother went on trial for the killing.

Michelle Lodzinski, 48, sat in court with her knuckles clutched, fidgeting back and forth, as opening statements began in her trial in the murder of Timothy Wiltsey.

"Who? Who would do this to Timmy Wiltsey?" said Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christie Bevacqua. "Members of the jury, the evidence will show it was his mother. The very person who brought him into the world – took him out."

Lodzinski claimed her son disappeared from a Sayreville carnival, but later changed her story, saying he was abducted. The boy's remains were found about a year later at an Edison industrial complex where Lodzinski once worked, and his skull was found in a creek in Raritan Center.

Timothy Wiltsey
Timothy Wiltsey, 5, was found dead in 1992, several months after disappearing from a New Jersey carnival. His mother, Michelle Lodzinski, 47, was arrested and charged with his death on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. (Credit: CBS 2)

The case was reopened in 2011. Lodzinski – by then living in Florida – was arrested in August 2014 after a grand jury indicted her on a first-degree murder charge in the boy's death.

"This blanket that was recovered within 30 feet of the body," Bevacqua said as she held a blanket that has been admitted as an exhibit in the trial, "this blanket which, in 1992, was never shown to any witness outside of the defendant and her parents -- not surprising."

Prosecutors will bring witnesses who will say the blanket that was found near the creek was from Lodzinski's apartment.

But Lodzinski's defense attorney said the state has no forensic or trace evidence tying the murder to his client.

"Take into account the impact of 20 years," said defense attorney Jerry Krovatin. "You're going to hear from (Lodzinski's niece) Jennifer Blair that she recognized this blanket, supposedly, 20 years later in 2012."

Krovatin shared family pictures and held up Timmy's kindergarten graduation gown.

"What kind of mother who was planning to murder her child, would then also go out a week before this and buy his graduation gown?" he said.

The first witness called was an auxiliary officer who first helped Lodzinski search the carnival. He said she showed no sense of urgency at the time.

Next up on the stand will be James O'Brien, formerly of the Middlesex County Crime Scene Unit.

Lodzinski has run into other legal troubles over the years since her son died.

She surfaced in Michigan in January 1994 and said two men claiming to be FBI agents had abducted her at gunpoint outside her apartment building, forced her into a black SUV and drove her to Detroit, where they let her out.

She pleaded guilty in 1995 to making false statements to the FBI and fraudulently using the agency's seal. She was sentenced to probation.

In 1997, Lodzinski was charged with stealing a computer from her former employer. She pleaded guilty to a theft charge in 1998. A federal judge sentenced her to house arrest after she admitted she committed a crime while on probation.

The trial is expected to last several months.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.