Egg Harbor City man indicted for murder of a mother and her son

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

EGG HARBOR, N.J. (WPVI) -- An Egg Harbor City man was indicted Wednesday for murder and arson in connection with the 2014 killing of a mother and child.

39-year-old Joseph F. Palmer III was indicted for two counts of murder, one count of aggravated arson, and two counts of possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose for the murders of Michelle (Heist) Pabst, 38, and her son Gavin Pabst, 7, both of whom lived with Palmer.

At 8:11 a.m. on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, Egg Harbor City police and firefighters from the Egg Harbor City Volunteer Fire Department and the South Egg Harbor Volunteer Fire Company responded to a 911 report of a fire at 214 Washington Avenue.

Authorities say Palmer was found outside the residence and treated for injuries.

He was transported by ambulance paramedics to the AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center - City Division.

The fire was extinguished, and the bodies of the two victims were discovered inside the home by emergency responders.

An autopsy determined both deaths to be homicides. The cause of the mother's death was determined to be multiple sharp and blunt force injuries, and the cause of the child's death multiple stab wounds.

Palmer was arrested by detectives of the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office Major Crimes Unit on November 14 and charged at the time with the two murders and aggravated arson.

A conviction for each of the two murder indictments carries a potential sentence of life without eligibility for parole in a maximum security New Jersey State prison.

The 2nd degree aggravated arson charge carries a potential penalty of 5 to 10 years of imprisonment if convicted.

The 3rd degree crimes carry a potential penalty of 3-5 years in prison.