3 Teens Charged in Beating Death of Homeless Man in N.J.

CBS New York, September 21, 2013

Three teenagers were in custody Saturday morning, on charges of beating a homeless man to his death in Hoboken, N.J.

As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, Hudson County Acting Prosecutor Gaetano T. Gregory said two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old were charged in the Sept. 10 death of Ralph Eric Santiago, 46.

Police believe the teens were playing a sick game.

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On Saturday morning, a bouquet of flowers marked the exact spot where Santiago’s head was found lodged between two posts on a wrought iron fence. {snip}

Santiago was followed by the three teens while walking on 3rd Street between Adams and Jefferson Streets in Hoboken on Sept. 10 when one of the juveniles threw a punch at Santiago’s head in what detectives believe was a game of “knockout.” Santiago then collapsed onto the fence, wedging his neck between two iron fence posts, where he died, the prosecutor said.

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All three of the teens are from Jersey City. Homicide detectives believe they traveled on the Light Rail from Jersey City to Hoboken. {snip}

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Santiago’s family said the father of one was a onetime gymnast and artist, but was disabled after being attacked 27 years ago in the Bronx.

[The victim’s ex-wife Tracy] Squillini told the Jersey Journal Santiago was attacked from behind while walking with friends in a public housing complex in the Bronx. His head was repeatedly pounded into the sidewalk, leaving him in a coma for a month, according to Squillini.

The beating caused him severe brain damage and he was never the same again, family members said.

Santiago had been evicted from his apartment last year.

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All three teenage suspects have been charged with murder and have been remanded to the Hudson County Youth Detention Center, the prosecutor said.

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