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Man Sentenced to Life in Slayings That Terrorized New Jersey Town

March 12, 1993

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ A man was sentenced Friday to life in prison for the slayings of five women and assaults on two others that the judge compared to a ″reign of terror.″

Jerome Dennis, who spent 10 years in prison on rape and robbery charges, pleaded guilty Feb. 26 to four counts of murder, one count of manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault. In exchange for the guilty pleas, 30 lesser charges were dropped.

Dennis, 26, could be eligible for parole in 60 years.

Superior Court Judge Joseph Falcone accused Dennis of fomenting a ″reign of terror on the citizens of Essex County and East Orange.″ Six of the victims were from East Orange, a suburb of Newark. The seventh was from Newark.

Relatives of the victims made courtroom statements.

″This person took my daughter on my birthday. We had to bury my daughter on my grandmother’s birthday. These are days that we used to celebrate and we cannot because there is nothing but pain,″ Doreen Gathoga sobbed before the judge.

Gathoga’s 16-year-old daughter, Jamillah Jones, was raped and stabbed repeatedly April 10. She was the last person to be killed before Dennis was arrested two days later.

Dennis was caught after investigators found the bodies of four East Orange women in a one-block stretch of East Orange, several blocks from where Dennis lived. The body of the fifth woman was found near where Dennis grew up in a Newark housing project.

One of his public defenders, Albert Kapin, said Dennis is suffering from schizophrenia and urged the judge to order psychiatric treatment for Dennis in prison.

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