Press Release: On Thursday, May 12, 2016, at 10:26 p.m., the Lacey Township Police Department received a call that 72-year-old Kuo Chun-Mei Tsai (Asian female) was not at her Constitution Drive home in Forked River and the family could not locate her after they searched the area for more than two hours. Once notified, the Lacey Township Police Department coordinated a search of the area with the assistance of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department K-9 units and the New Jersey State Police Aviation (Helicopter) unit. A check with neighbors in the area revealed that she was observed walking with her cane on Constitution Drive earlier in the evening. Checks of all of the properties and stores in the area yielded no results. She was reported by family to not understand or speak English (only Chinese) and said to have just moved into the area from Weehawkin, NJ. She had only been in the United States since October of 2015. She was said to be completely unfamiliar with the area and had significant mobility impairment. The coordinated search efforts continued throughout the night and into the early morning hours.
It appears hundreds of residents saw her walking in the nice evening weather between 4:15 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. when she was last observed near the area where her cane was eventually located. Members of the public reported last seeing her on Nautilus Boulevard near Cabot Street in Forked River. Her cane was subsequently located on a dock at the South Branch of Stouts Creek at the end of Cabot Street. A resident of Winthrop Drive (two blocks east of Cabot Street), upon daybreak, observed the victim floating deceased in the South Branch Stouts Creek across the waterway behind his house. The Lacey Township Police Department was notified at 6:24 a.m., on Friday, May 13, 2016, of the discovery. The family was advised and the victim was removed from the water by authorities.
Detective Kymberly Gudgeon of the Lacey Township Police Department is handling the investigation with the assistance of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU), Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Ocean County Medical Examiners Office.
– Chief David A. Paprota, Ed.D.