Six young people have been arrested in the kidnapping and murder of a teen mother who was abducted from an Atlantic City home last March. The vicious nature of the crime shocked the community and stirred federal law enforcement agents to bring an enormous amount of state and local resources to bear on the case.
For 24 days single mother Nadirah Ruffin, 20, was missing after a home invasion on Maryland Avenue. Her body was found on April 19, 2011 in the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. She died of a gunshot wound, according to the medical examiner. She also had a handcuff attached to her leg, according to U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman.
Shamerria Smith, 24, Aziz Sanders, 18, and Deshawn Hicks, 19, were arrested Tuesday morning and charged with kidnapping, robbery and weapons offenses, according to Fishman. They face the death penalty for their alleged crimes.
“Two other men were arrested and charged with tampering with a potential witness in connection with the investigation, according to Fishman. Henry Ruffin, 40, of Williamstown, and Ronnie Ruffin, 42, of Lindenwold (neither of whom are related to Nadirah Ruffin), are accused of using physical force and threats of physical force to prevent a witness from providing information to the FBI and other investigating officers.” Ronnie Ruffin is Smith’s father. Henry Ruffin is an uncle of Smith, Sanders and Isiah Ruffin. Both men face up to 20 years in prison.
Isiah Ruffin (no relation to Nadirah Ruffin), 20, of Atlantic City, was also arrested and charged with giving false information to FBI special agents who were investigating the disappearance and death of Nadirah Ruffin. If convicted Isiah Ruffin could serve up to five years in prison.
Nadirah Ruffin was visiting friends in a Maryland Avenue apartment when a number of masked and armed people invaded the home in March 2011. The intruders bound and blindfolded the women and ransacked the home looking for drugs and money, according to Fishman.
Two of the women were pistol whipped, according to the FBI. The intruders stayed in the home for approximately 40 minutes and left with Nadirah Ruffin. She was shoved into a waiting vehicle and kidnapped.
“The kidnapping and murder allegations in the complaint detail an indifference to human life that is shocking,” Fishman said. “The complaint describes how associates of those responsible attempted to use threats, violence and lies to prevent us from finding and arresting the suspects. We are grateful for the tireless and cooperative investigative work of the Atlantic City Police Department, the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and the FBI, which ultimately led to the arrests of all of those involved.”
“This investigation is of utmost importance to the FBI Safe Street Task Force due to aspects of home invasion, robbery, kidnapping, and the senseless murder of a young woman and mother,” Michael B. Ward, Special Agent In Charge of the FBI's Newark Division, said. “Such acts of violence will not be tolerated and will be met forcefully by the united efforts of law enforcement. Today's arrests of six subjects believed to be responsible for this extreme violence are an example of that commitment, and would not have been possible without close coordination and partnership with the Atlantic City Police Department, Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office, Philadelphia Police Department, New Jersey State Police, and the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey. We also would like to recognize the Philadelphia division of the FBI for their assistance in today's arrests.”
“I would like to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI for their supercession of this investigation at the federal level,” Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said. “Our agency is pleased to have partnered with federal authorities in this interstate cooperative endeavor not only so as to pool resources in this complicated investigation, but additionally to be able to potentially seek more serious penalties, which a federal prosecution can result in under the appropriate circumstances.”
“This is a very significant arrest,” Deputy Chief Ernest Jubilee, Commander of the Atlantic City Police Department, said. “This is the most significant series of arrests made in one case this year. It was a tragic occurrence and I’m glad that the collaborative effort put forth by all agencies has resulted in these arrests.”
The arrests were the culmination of an intensive investigation by the Atlantic City office of the FBI, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Atlantic City Police Department. Members of FBI SWAT, Newark and Philadelphia; FBI Evidence Response Team; N. J. State Police TEAMS;” Atlantic City Police Department SWAT Team and detectives; the Philadelphia office of the FBI, and the N.J. State Police participated in today’s arrest operation.