Jersey Rabbi Who Had His Wife Killed Dies in Prison

Fred Neulander was serving a life sentence
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2024 2:30 AM CDT
Jersey Rabbi Who Had His Wife Killed Dies in Prison
Rabbi Fred Neulander, center, listens to his son Benjamin, left, before the start of his bail hearing at the Camden County Hall of Justice on Wednesday, June 21, 2000, in Camden, NJ.   (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Philadelphia Daily News via AP, Pool, File)

While he was the senior rabbi of a New Jersey synagogue in 1994, Fred Neulander's wife, Carol, was beaten to death with a lead pipe inside their home at age 52 by assailants who entered while she was on the phone with one of the couple's three grown children. Almost nothing else in the house had been disturbed, though, leading investigators to wonder whether the home invasion was a robbery or something else. It turned out to be something else, and something horrific: Fred Neulander was ultimately convicted of having his wife killed in a murder-for-hire plot he launched because he wanted to pursue an extramarital affair. On Wednesday, the 82-year-old was found dead in the infirmary unit of the Trenton prison where he'd been serving his life sentence since 2002, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. His cause of death has not been released, NBC 10 reports.

Neulander was a serial cheater, prosecutors said, and at the time of his wife's murder he was involved with Elaine Soncini, a local radio personality he met when he officiated at her husband's funeral in 1992. A friend of the rabbi's with ties to the criminal world testified that Neulander asked him if he knew anyone who could arrange a hit on his wife, and ultimately Len Jenoff and Paul Michael Daniels were hired for the grisly job. Jenoff testified that Neulander told him "he wanted to come home one night and find his wife dead on the floor." They were both convicted of their roles in the murder and released from prison in 2014 after serving their sentences. In a statement Friday, the synagogue Neulander co-founded said his "leadership of the congregation ended many years ago under well-publicized circumstances that ran counter to the values our congregation holds dear." (More New Jersey stories.)

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