Egg Harbor City man charged with murder of mother, son

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A man has been arrested in the murders of a mother and son.

A man has been charged with murder and arson in connection with the deaths of a mother and child in Egg Harbor City.

38-year-old Joseph F. Palmer III of Egg Harbor City was charged Friday with the November 12th murders.

Palmer was also charged with aggravated arson, for setting fire to the residence with the purpose of destroying it.

The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office identifies the young victim as 7-year-old Gavin Pabst. Police believe the woman to be his mother, Michelle Heist.

Police say all three lived in the same address.

At 8:11 a.m. Wednesday, Egg Harbor City Police and firefighters from the Egg Harbor City Volunteer Fire Department and the South Egg Harbor Volunteer Fire Company responded the report of a fire at 214 Washington Avenue.

Palmer was found outside the residence.

Palmer was treated for injuries and transported by ambulance to the AtlantiCareRegional Medical Center City Division.

After the fire was extinguished, emergency responders discovered the bodies inside the home.

Detectives of the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit arrested Palmer at 12:30 p.m. as he was discharged from the hospital.

Neighbors say the mother and her son would often play in the front yard, and they were genuinely nice people. They can't understand why someone would want to hurt them.

Debrorah Langford lives nearby. She says, "To have this happen, it's very devastating. And I hope they catch the person who did this."

Another neighbor, Kateland Johnson, tells us, "She was like me a good mom... Just cared about her kids."
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