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Jury Convicts Engel Brothers Of Murder

June 18, 1986

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) _ A jury Tuesday convicted two millionaire brothers of arranging the murder of one defendant’s ex-wife, who prosecutors said was strangled by a hired killer as her husband watched, smoking a cigarette.

The Bergen County Superior Court jury deliberated 17 hours over three days before convicting the Colombian-born brothers, William Engel, 41, former husband of Xiomara Alvarez Engel, and Herbert Engel, 38, of murder and conspiracy.

The jury will begin considering Monday whether the brothers should die by lethal drug injection or be imprisoned for life with 30 years of parole ineligibility.

Bergen County Prosecutor Larry J. McClure said William Engel hired one of his brother’s employees, who strangled Mrs. Engel with an electrical cord.

The slaying occurred two months after Mrs. Engel, who had begun dating a Newark lawyer, had her marriage to William Engel annulled.

She sought the annulment after learning that Engel was still married to his first wife at the time of their Aug. 30, 1981, wedding.

″William demanded possession and control of this woman,″ said McClure. ″He was obsessed with her.″

Testimony showed that William Engel had beaten Xiomara Engel at least twice since their 1982 separation.

Mrs. Engel said in divorce papers filed that year that she knew she could be placing her life in jeopardy by divorcing her husband.

″He has said that he would kill me if I did not live with him, and recently he said something that was even more ominous and threatening to me. He said that I should remember that he does not have to kill me himself,″ she said in the divorce documents.

James McFadden, a driver who worked for Herbert Engel’s trucking company in Paterson, admitted strangling Mrs. Engel on Dec. 13, 1984, in William Engel’s warehouse in Englewood. He testified that the brothers offered him $25,000 to commit the crime.

Prosecutors have agreed not to seek the death penalty for McFadden, who pleaded guilty to murder.

Mrs. Engel’s body was found in a burning car on a rural road near Olanta, S.C., the next day.

Defense attorneys repeatedly attacked McFadden’s credibility during the trial.

Miles Feinstein, attorney for William Engel, said McFadden had been promised leniency by prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against the Engels, and he called the witness ″an admitted liar.″

Neither brother took the stand in the month-long trial, marked by tight security and lines of spectators waiting to get into the courtroom.

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