Sherry Lee Heffernan of Landenberg, Pa. has been arrested for the brutal New Jersey stabbing of her 87-year-old father, John Enders, and his girlfriend, police announced Tuesday.
The bodies of John Enders and his partner, 75-year-old Francoise Pitoy, were discovered in their stunning oceanfront home on Long Beach Island Sunday evening. Police conducting a wellness check found the elderly pair dead of “multiple, obvious stab wounds.” Medical examiners said the man’s death resulted from “multiple stab wounds with severance of the right carotid artery and blunt force trauma.”
Investigators determined that the stabbings were a “targeted attack,” and that no general threat to the public was posed.
“The cooperative investigation ultimately determined that Heffernan, Mr. Enders’ daughter, was responsible for the deaths of both Mr. Enders and Ms. Pitoy,” said Ocean County prosecutor Bradley Billhimer, thanking various law enforcement agencies following the arrest.
Police believe Sherry Lee Heffernan killed the two last Wednesday before fleeing to her Pennsylvania home. They charged her with the crime within 48 hours of discovering the bodies.
Why Was the Elderly Couple Killed?
It’s not yet clear why John Enders and Francoise Pitoy were murdered, but the scene of the crime — a six-bedroom, four-bathroom residence on the southern tip of a luxurious vacation community — may shed light on a possible motive.
According to property records, John Enders recently put the house in his name, transferring ownership away from a family trust. Shortly after, the house was listed for sale to the tune of $2.4 million, though the price tag was later reduced to $1.9 million. Since Sept. 2, real estate sites have listed the house as “pending sale,” a status that indicates a buyer had made an offer which the seller accepted. The process was not finalized before John Enders’ death.
Real estate websites describe the two-story home as a corner lot, featuring 126 feet of frontage on Barnegat Bay. The space is large enough for a 50-foot boat and offers gorgeous waterfront views “as far as the eye can see.”
The Surf City section of Long Beach Island, where the slayings occurred, is a summer colony where the wealthy are known to vacation. Homicide is relatively rare in this Jersey Shore community — though, coincidentally, the most recent murder in Surf City prior to the Sherry lee Heffernan killings came in 2004, when Gregory Gillick stabbed and killed his 75-year-old stepmother after a drunken argument.
Given that Enders also owned a home in Pennsylvania, it is possible that the house where he died was not his yearlong residence.
According to reports, John Enders had previously lived in Doylestown, Pa., not far from the New Jersey border. He was possibly the owner of a Pennsylvania construction company called Enders, J.F., which lists “John F. Enders of Doylestown” as its president.
Enders’ girlfriend, Francoise Pitoy, lived in Manchester, N.J., but was known to stay at the Surf City house frequently, authorities said.
What’s Next for Sherry Lee Heffernan?
Following extradition to the Garden State, she will be held in an Ocean County Jail, pending her arraignment. Heffernan is accused of both murders as well as two weapons charges related to the brutal stabbings.
Little personal information about Sherry Lee Heffernan is available. According to her mostly inactive Facebook account, the accused is originally from Doylestown.
Her occupation is listed as a sales representative at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, a real estate firm.