ELIZABETH — Even before Union County authorities discovered the body of a slain woman in a city apartment Sunday, many miles south, in North Carolina, police had arrested an Elizabeth man driving the victim’s car.
Arturo Alomas, an Elizabeth man, was arrested shortly after 4 p.m near Salisbury, N.C., following a police chase in which Alomas crashed the silver Dodge he was driving, North Carolina officials say.
Police later determined the car was registered to Trenice Johnson, the 26-year-old woman whose body was found in her apartment in Mravlag Manor public housing complex in Elizabeth, the authorities said.
After questioning Alomas, North Carolina police called their Elizabeth counterparts suggesting they check on Johnson.
Acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park, in a statement released Monday, said Johnson was found dead in her apartment about 6 p.m. Sunday. The cause of death was a combination of strangulation and asphyxiation, Park said.
However, Park’s statement included no information about Alomas or the car or the infant. The prosecutor’s office declined to comment on information released by North Carolina police. Park said the prosecutor’s Homicide Task Force, Elizabeth police and the Union County Sheriff’s Office’s Identification Unit are investigating the homicide.
North Carolina police charged Alomas with speeding to elude arrest, illegal possession of blue emergency lights, child restraint, damage to personal car, assault on government official, misdemeanor child abuse, and careless and reckless driving.
It appears North Carolina police may have notified Elizabeth police with concerns about Johnson around the same time, shortly before, Union County authorities discovered the woman’s body in her apartment.
About 4 p.m. Sunday, a North Carolina state trooper saw the silver Dodge traveling south on I-85 near Salisbury, N.C. with blue emergency lights on the grill, said Lt. Jeff Gordon of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
He said the trooper attempted to stop the car, but the driver of the car, later identified as Alomas, refused. The trooper attempted to cause the fleeing Dodge to spin-out, and the car struck a concrete barrier but continued down the highway, Gordon said.
Alomas turned onto exit 74 for Julian Road, where he struck the trooper’s vehicle and the Dodge became disabled on the shoulder of the exit ramp, the lieutenant said.
Troopers arrested Alomas and found the infant in a child car seat, restrained only by a seatbelt, Gordon said. He said Johnson’s belongings were in the vehicle and said Alomas, when questioned, responded that Johnson was somewhere in New Jersey.
At that point, Gordon said, North Carolina authorities notified Elizabeth police to make a welfare check on Johnson. A short time later, Elizabeth police confirmed that Johnson was deceased, Gordon said.
He said the infant was not injured and is now in the custody of the North Carolina Department of Social Services.
Alomas is being held at the Rowan County jail on $500,000 bail.
Park said a $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case.
Anyone with information about Johnson’s death is being urged to contact Homicide Task Force Sgt. Johnny Ho at (908) 403-8271 or Detective Dan Joy at (908) 337-0832.
Tips can be given anonymously by phone at 908-654-TIPS (8477), via text message by texting “UCTIP” plus a message to 274637 (CRIMES), or online at www.uctip.org.
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