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Lots Of Questions After Jeweler’s Wife Killed By Husband’s Gun

March 17, 1995

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ It appeared to be a simple jewel heist gone awry, with one of the robbers killing the jewelry store owner’s wife and getting shot himself before running out of the store empty-handed.

But prosecutors now believe the bullet that killed 32-year-old Brenda Wolf came from her husband’s gun, fired at close range.

Investigators are treating the shooting as an accident, but they aren’t ruling anything out, either.

For now, authorities say they have no plans to charge Jeffrey Wolf. His description of what happened during the robbery, however, was ``completely implausible,″ said Somerset County Prosecutor Nicholas L. Bissell Jr.

``Clearly it could not have occurred the way he said it had occurred,″ Bissell said, declining to give his own version of what happened.

A surveillance camera in the store had not been turned on the day of the robbery, and there was no tape in it, the prosecutor said.

The man wounded in the robbery, Marqis Anthony Kennon, was arraigned Friday on charges including murder and armed robbery and was held on $1 million bail.

Investigators searched for three other men who allegedly flew from Kansas City, Mo., to New York on Monday night to rob the jewelry store and then returned to the Midwest after the bungled robbery the next day.

The suspects were identified by authorities as Avram David Gottlieb, 34, and Robert and Steve Burns.

Police believe an unidentified fifth robber who lives in New Jersey planned the heist and recruited the others to carry it out.

Nothing was taken in the attempted robbery. Wolf told police there was $1 million in jewelry and $150,000 in cash in the store, but authorities found less than a quarter of that when they inspected the place.

Bissell said there was no large insurance policy on the store. The store did a respectable $600,000 to $1 million in sales yearly, said Alan Leopold, deputy executive director of Jewelers of America.

At his wife’s funeral Friday, Wolf stared blankly out the window of his limousine before shielding his face from cameras. He did not speak to reporters as he entered and exited the service.

Bissell said the couple did not appear to have any marital problems, and Mrs. Wolf had only $10,000 in life insurance.

According to Wolf’s version of events, two robbers posing as deliverymen entered the Jeffrey Scott Fine Jewelry store in this central New Jersey town Tuesday afternoon. As Wolf approached those men, Kennon, brandishing a gun, ran into the store, vaulted the counter and threw Mrs. Wolf to the ground.

Wolf told police he struggled with the men, and Kennon shot Mrs. Wolf in the face. Wolf said he grabbed his gun from behind the counter and shot Kennon.

But Kennon told authorities he kept his gun in his pocket when he entered the store, and it fell out when he jumped the counter.

Authorities say Kennon never fired his gun.

``The safety was on and a round had not been chambered. We’re confident that the weapon was not fired,″ Bissell said.

Ballistic reports showed the bullet recovered from Mrs. Wolf’s body during an autopsy matched her husband’s .357-caliber Magnum. Burns and bruises on her body showed the shot was fired from less than 20 inches away, Bissell said.

Kennon’s gun was recovered by police. Bissell declined to describe it except to say it is a small-caliber weapon.

Bissell said for now, Wolf isn’t a suspect. Wolf may have been so shocked from the trauma of watching his wife die that he was unable to give police an accurate account of the shooting, the prosecutor said.

Kennon was arrested, bleeding and dazed, in a field a few hundred yards away after the three robbers ran from the store, Bissell said. He was treated for bullet wounds at a hospital before being turned over to police.

Kennon said in his affidavit that Gottlieb had recruited him to commit an unidentified crime in New Jersey for $5,000 to $10,000.

Gottlieb refused to enter the store during the robbery because he was afraid the owner would recognize him, Kennon said in the affidavit. Prosecutors said they had no reason to believe Wolf knew Gottlieb.

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