2009-01-09 / Front Page

Bloody Clothing Leads To Homicide Arrest

By Howard Schwach

Bloody clothing found in a car parked on Beach 92 Street in Rockaway Beach led to the arrest of a Meriden, Connecticut man, police in that city say.

A spokesperson for the Meriden police identified the suspect in the murder of Ramses Branch as Joseph Halladay Sr., whose unidentified cousin lives in Rockaway.

Court records show that Halladay was arrested at the home of his parents in Connecticut on December 31 on charges of felony murder .

Investigators say that Halladay and Branch had a fight on Christmas Eve, which ended when Halladay stabbed Branch repeatedly with a kitchen knife that was in the apartment.

Police say that the motive for the murder is still unclear.

Several witnesses allegedly told Meriden detectives that Halladay had told them that the fight started when Branch "tried to touch him sexually."

Police say, however, that there is evidence that Halladay may have stolen several electronic devices from Branch's apartment. Some of those items, including a digital camera and a flat screen television set, were found at a local pawn shop, officials say.

Neighbors told Record Journal reporter Jason Vallee that Halladay and Branch had been friends prior to the Christmas Eve stabbing, that Branch was dating Halladay's sister, and that he often stayed at Branch's apartment when Branch, a truck driver, was on the road.

On the night of the murder, police say, Halladay called family members to say that he believed that Branch was dead.

Then, he and his unidentified girlfriend jumped into his White Ford Taurus and drove to his cousin's home on Beach 92 Street, where he parked his car.

Sources say that he and his girlfriend returned to Connecticut by public transportation, leaving the car in Rockaway.

Upon the request of the Meriden police Major Crimes Squad, New York City detectives were asked to scour the area for the missing automobile.

NYPD detectives from the 100 Precinct Squad in Rockaway Park found the car parked on the street with several bloody articles of clothing and stains, court records show.

The car and the clothing were returned to the Connecticut jurisdiction, local police say.

Court officials say that the case was transferred to the New Haven court and that Halladay is being held on $1 million bond pending his next hearing, which is scheduled for January 27.

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