Charles Leeds got home from work shortly after 5:00 pm on Friday, August 27, 1976. He had a friend with him when he arrived at the Brick Township, New Jersey apartment he shared with his pregnant wife, Cynthia. The two men went into the ground-floor apartment together; they expected to be greeted by Cindy, but they were met with only silence. Cindy was eight months pregnant, and Charles first thought she had decided to take a nap. He went into the bedroom to check on her and was horrified to find her lying on the floor, covered in blood. It was obvious that the 21-year-old was d*ead.

Charles quickly backed out of the bedroom and ran for the telephone. Officers from the Brick Township Police Department arrived at the apartment a few minutes later and confirmed what Charles already knew: his wife had been murd*ered.

Charles and Cindy had moved to the Kentwood Village apartment complex the previous month, and they hadn’t had a chance to meet many of their neighbors yet. Detectives went door-to-door throughout the complex, interviewing residents and asking if any of them had heard anything unusual Friday afternoon. Neighbors reported that all had been quiet; they hadn’t heard any screams or anything to make them think that Cindy had been in danger.

Those who lived in the apartments closest to Charles and Cindy noted that the couple seemed to keep to themselves; they didn’t throw loud parties and rarely seemed to have guests over. One resident said she had seen Cindy several times but had never spoken to her. “She was very quiet, she never said ‘boo’.”

Charles told investigators that he and Cindy had gotten married in April and lived in Manasquan, New Jersey for the first few months of their marriage. He worked as a truck driver for a local beverage company, and Cindy had worked for the Department of Agriculture until three weeks earlier, when she left her job to prepare for the arrival of their first child.

On the next day, Dr. Herbert Becker of the Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office did an autopsy on Cindy’s body. He said Cindy had been stabbed several times in the chest, but that wasn’t enough to k*ill her. She had been de*ad for a few hours before her husband found her. Dr. Becker determined that she died of suffocation from being strangled by hand. That Cindy was naked when her body was found didn’t help Dr. Becker figure out if she had been sexually assaulted.

Dr. Becker was sad to say that none of the stab wounds had hit Cindy’s unborn child. If Cindy had been found sooner, the baby could have been delivered and probably would have lived. According to the police, they had to look into two m*urders.

These past few days, police questioned over 100 people, but none of them could help them figure out who kil*led Cindy. Eugene Halton, who is in charge of public safety for Brick Township, told reporters that detectives had found some fingerprints that they weren’t sure belonged to Cindy in her flat, but they thought they might be related to the c*rime. They also couldn’t say for sure if the kil*ler had broken into the flat or not, but they thought he might have done it through a window. Even though money was lying on the counter and nothing was taken from the flat, they didn’t think that theft was the reason for the cr*ime.

It had been two weeks since Cindy’s mur*der, and detectives admitted that they had not made much progress in finding her k*iller. More than 400 people were asked about the victim, and not a single one had anything bad to say. Her family and friends said she was shy and quiet. She liked to sew and spent a lot of her free time making clothes for her unborn child.

Detectives had talked to Charles more than once, and he seemed really sad about the d*eath of his wife. Detective Lt. Robert Santaniello of Brick Township said, “Everything points to them being a very happy married couple.” This was confirmed by Cindy’s sister, Jeanne Turner. “She and the baby were both excited about it.” I want a boy, Cindy.”

Jeanne told the police that the sisters would spend almost every afternoon together at Cindy’s flat after she stopped working. At first, Jeanne was going to stop by the day of the mur*der, but it started to rain, so she chose to stay home.

Cindy got her high school diploma from Brick Township in 1973. After high school, she quickly got a job as a secretary at the Department of Agriculture, where her dad was an inspector for meat and fish. She didn’t mind the work, but she had to get up very early to get to Newark for work on time. “She hated having to get up at 4:00 am every morning,” Jeanne said. Cindy met Charles through Jeanne and her husband. Both men worked as truck drivers for the same beverage company. It wasn’t long before Charles and Cindy were making plans to spend the rest of their lives together. Now, a cruel k*iller had taken away all of their hopes for the future.

Three weeks after Cindy was ki*lled, police were still trying to figure out who did it. Though they talked to more than 500 people, they weren’t able to find any solid leads. Lt. Santaniello told the reporters that the case was still very important to the investigators. “The investigation has not reached a de*ad end in any way.”

Detectives worked hard on the case, but it was clear right away that it had reached a de*ad end. After months, Cindy’s k*iller was still not caught. In February 1977, police said they were looking for a man who had taken the same commuter train as Cindy until a few weeks before she was k*illed, when she stopped working. Detectives were told by other commuters that Cindy talked to this man a lot on her way to work. They sat together on the train, but they never got off or on at the same stop. It’s funny that this man got off the train at the same time Cindy stopped working.

Detective Lt. William Gallant of Ocean County said that this unidentified commuter was not a suspect in Cindy’s mu*rder, but they thought he might know something important that could help them with their investigation. “We definitely want to talk to him…”She might have said a name or something about her d*eath.”

Detectives rode the same train that Cindy used to take for a week. They got on at the Point Pleasant stop and went to Newark on the train. Commuters remembered that the man Cindy had been friendly with had gotten on the train somewhere in Monmouth County, but no one was sure where exactly. He was said to be a white man in his early 20s who was about 5 feet 9 inches tall and dressed informally. Some people on the train thought the man worked in the financial district of Lower Manhattan.

On March 14, 1977, police released a composite sketch of a man they wanted to question about Cindy’s de*ath. The man had dark brown hair and stood 6 feet tall. He was thought to be between 26 and 33 years old. It was thought that he was driving an older, dark blue van that needed body work. Anyone who recognised the sketch was told to call the police right away. The man’s identity was still unknown.

Things were no longer being looked into by the end of the year. Years passed, and no one was able to figure out who k*illed Cindy. In December 1986, police told reporters that they still looked over the case file every so often, but there had been no new leads in years. It was never possible to figure out who the mysterious commuter or the man in the dark blue van was, and they were still not sure if either of them had anything to do with the cr*ime.

James Churchill, the head of the major cr*imes unit for the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, admitted that their best piece of evidence had been inadvertently destroyed on the first day of the investigation. There had been a bloody knife found in the kitchen sink, but it was accidentally rinsed off after someone washed their hands. The blood — and any possible fingerprints — was washed down the drain.

Detective Churchill told reporters that it was possible the kil*ler was someone who had been obsessed with Cindy. “This type of individual is usually a loner and lives in close proximity to the victim. This person has a crush on someone…and makes his feelings known. Depending on how he is rebuffed, he can snap.”

It was also possible that Cindy had been k*illed by someone who wanted to steal her unborn child; Detective Churchill stated that one of the knife slashes had exposed Cindy’s uterus, a fact that had never been made public prior to 1986. If this were the case, it was possible that the ki*ller could have been a female who panicked before she was able to take Cindy’s baby.

It has been more than 45 years since Cindy was kil*led, and investigators continue to periodically go over her case, hoping to find something that was missed during the initial investigation. There have been no new leads in decades, but the case remains open and detectives hope that someone will finally call with the information they need to obtain justice for Cindy and her unborn child.

Cynthia Coulon Leeds was just 21 years old when she was brutally mu*rdered in Brick Township, New Jersey in August 1976. The attack also took the life of her unborn baby, as Cindy was 8 months pregnant when she was k*illed. Cindy was a shy, introverted young woman who mostly kept to herself and was looking forward to becoming a mother. All of her dreams were stolen by a ki*ller that remains unidentified; no suspects have ever been named. If you have any information about Cindy’s mur*der, please contact the Brick Township Police Department at 732–262–1100.

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