Pemberton resident charged with killing man whose remains were found in Jackson

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JACKSON – A resident of Pemberton, Burlington County, has been charged with murdering a man whose skeletal remains were discovered in the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area in Jackson in March.

On April 23, Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina and Col. Patrick J. Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, announced the arrest of Alan McGinnis, 27, of Pemberton, in connection with the death of Cody MacPherson, 20, also of Pemberton.

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In March, skeletal remains were discovered in the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area. Law enforcement authorities said the remains were identified and that following an autopsy and an investigation, McGinnis was arrested on April 21 and charged with murder, kidnapping, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, unlawful possession of a weapon, improper disposal of human remains and destruction of evidence. He was placed in the Ocean County Jail, Toms River.

Law enforcement authorities gave the following account of the circumstances that led to the arrest of McGinnis.

On Sept. 24, Pemberton Township police detectives filed a missing person report for MacPherson, who had recently moved to the municipality from Portage, Ind.

On March 19 at 1:32 p.m., the Jackson Police Department received a call from Richard Byrne, a district warden with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. Byrne was conducting a controlled burn in the area between 433 and 483 South Stump Tavern Road in the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area.

As Byrne was preparing the area for the controlled burn, he observed human remains under logs. He moved closer and noticed what he believed to be a human skull. Byrne contacted his supervisor via radio and requested a suppression team to respond to put out the burn in the area to preserve the evidence.

Detectives from the New Jersey State Police Homicide South Unit were contacted and Detective Shaun Clark was assigned to work the investigation with the Major Crime Homicide Unit of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. The remains were suspected to be those of MacPherson.

On March 20, a post-mortem examination was conducted at Community Medical Center, Toms River. Authorities ruled the cause of death of the individual to be a stab wound to the left abdomen and the manner of death to be homicide. An examination of the individual’s teeth was consistent with records obtained for MacPherson. Subsequent DNA analysis confirmed the individual to be MacPherson.

On April 21 at 6 a.m., two residential search warrants were executed in Pemberton and Jackson. Law enforcement authorities said the investigation determined that during the early hours of Sept. 24, McGinnis allegedly stabbed MacPherson multiple times at a residence on Pardee Boulevard in Pemberton.

Authorities said McGinnis then allegedly used a vehicle to transport MacPherson in the trunk to the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area on South Stump Tavern Road in Jackson. McGinnis allegedly traveled back to Pemberton where the scene was cleaned of visible blood and other evidence of the murder. Authorities said McGinnis also allegedly destroyed evidence associated with the crime.

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