After 35 long years, peace was finally felt by one New Jersey family. A settlement was reached this week for $10 million in a civil lawsuit filed in December of 2008 for the wrongful death of Susan R. The family plans to donate the entire settlement to her alma mater, Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia for a scholarship they established in her name.
Susan and another Bergen County woman had been raped and murdered by the nephew of the late New Jersey philanthropist Lillian Garis Booth. She had recently graduated from college when she was abducted and raped while walking to her parent’s home in Demarest when she was merely 22-years old. Her body was not found until two weeks after her disappearance.
The family has suffered a series of ups and downs after the investigation into the death of their beloved. The now 70-year-old nephew had been convicted for the rapes and murders in 1979, but on appeal he received a new trial. The conviction was overturned due to prosecutorial misconduct when the prosecution told the jury about previous rapes he had committed. The retrial in 1986 resulted again in conviction where he received a life sentence and is currently serving the sentence at Trenton State Prison.
As a part of her estate plan, Lillian Booth had left her nephew a $9 million trust. Her wealth came from her husband who had inherited a fortune from his father and through smart investing as a private investment counselor grew the small fortune into one much larger. In contrast with her nephew, Booth was known for her charity. She had established the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey and had donated copious amounts of money to medical facilities. Prior to his conviction for murder, Booth’s nephew yearned to receive his inheritance early and was convicted for plotting to kill his aunt.
Source: The Associated Press “Family of woman killed in N.J. wins $10M settlement” 9/16/10