Victim's friend arrested in Hammonton murders

HAMMONTON, N.J. - December 1, 2011

The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office has charged 32-year-old Patrick Latko of Gloucester County with killing his friend, 29-year-old Ryan Patterson and Patterson's mother, 64-year-old Diana.

Latko said very little as he made his first appearance in a Mays Landing courtroom on Thursday afternoon.

The Patterson's family came to court but had no comment for reporters. The Atlantic County prosecutor would not comment on a motive or reports of a love triangle involving Ryan Patterson.

However, authorities are still looking for a missing iPhone related to the investigation. They say that if anyone has it or finds it can turn it in, no questions asked. Prosecutor Ted Housel said one of the victims may have used the iPhone to call 911 before dying.

Latko was no stranger to the Pattersons - he and Ryan attended Penco Tech in Gloucester Township together and are seen in a Facebook photo.

The day after the murder, Latko even posted on Facebook "To my friend, I will miss you and your mother. We always had fun, even f it was running to Wawa for lunch or you partying at the race in Wildwood."

The stabbings happened in the Pattersons' Madison Avenue home on Thursday, November 3rd.

Family, neighbors, and friends have been waiting for their killer to be caught.

"I don't want to jump to conclusions that it's an open and shut case. I know it's probably just the beginning and if they're doing a thorough investigation, I really hope they miss no details," Charley Lolio of Hammonton said.

Police have said Ryan was found with more than 20 stab and slash wounds, while Diana suffered from more than 10.

Officials say Ryan was able call 911 that morning before succumbing his wounds.

Forensic investigators removed about a dozen bags of evidence from the home as well as computer equipment on the day of the homicides.

A few days later, a knife was found in the yard of a home on 12th Street in Hammonton. Authorities now say they believe that knife was used in the killings.

Action News has learned Latko was arrested at the Wenonah home Wednesday where family members live.

"From what we know of him, I met him a couple of times and he seemed like a nice enough guy," Bill Rile of Wenonah said.

Neighbors who have known Latko over the years were just about speechless.

"To find out it was next door to us, the person who did it, that is said to have done it, I'm just shocked," Kathy Rile of Wenonah said.

Patterson's mother was adored and he was well known in the motocross world as a great competitor.

His friends are eager to hear a motive for the crime.

"They were both good people and it was hard to see what happened to both of them," Morgan said.

Action News checked into Latko's criminal record and found nothing major in the state of New Jersey.

A judge set Latko's bail at $2 million.

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