Related topics

Girl found dead; suspect rented room from family

November 4, 1997

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) _ A man who rented a room from a friend’s family was charged with murdering his friend’s 10-year-old sister, whose body was found in a van behind a strip mall.

The body of Lauren Relyea, missing for two days, was found Monday night and Yusaf Hagans, who had lived at her home for about three months, was charged in her death.

He probably will be arraigned Wednesday because courts are closed today for elections, prosecutor Robert Gluck said.

Police said Hagans, 24, took Lauren for a walk Saturday night and beat her over the head with a large, blunt object. He put her body in the van and tried to get rid of her clothes, Gluck said.

Police found shoes and other pieces of her clothing near the mall, called the Statewide Business Center.

Police did not know if Lauren was sexually assaulted. An autopsy was scheduled for today, Gluck said.

Hagans was a friend of Lauren’s brother and knew the family took in roomers. Hagans, Lauren’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend lived there along with five children, the prosecutor said.

Lauren was last seen playing in her front yard, authorities said. Her mother thought she went to spend the night at a friend’s house. When the fifth-grader didn’t return the next day, her mother’s boyfriend called police.

The cable television station News 12 New Jersey reported that police had determined that Hagans was the last person to see her alive.

Update hourly