Camden County authorities have captured a suspect in a robbery linked to the kidnapping and murder of Curtis Jenkins III, grandson of Camden City Council President Curtis Jenkins Sr., police said Monday.
Jalen Carr, 22, of Sicklerville, has been charged in the robbery, which authorities believe is connected to last week’s death of the 20-year-old. Carr was picked up by police in Camden on Friday after reneging on an offer to surrender voluntarily, court records show.
The arrest came as a break in the investigation of the abduction and murder of Jenkins, whose body was found in an abandoned garage on the 1100 block of Liberty Street in Camden on July 2, a day after he was reported missing by his father, Curtis Jr. It was unclear why the arrest was not announced until Monday.
A spokesperson for the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that the investigation was ongoing and declined further comment. Carr was charged with two counts of armed robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and unlawful possession of weapon. He was ordered held in the Camden County Jail.
Carr allegedly took part in a home invasion and the robbery of a cell phone used to call Jenkins’ family to demand drugs as ransom for Jenkins’ safe return. Jenkins’ body was found the next day wrapped in a sheet, his hands and feet bound, a plastic bag covering his head. He died of lack of oxygen, authorities said.
Brandon Beverly, 32, was arrested at the Woodbury apartment of his girlfriend and charged initially with kidnapping and aggravated assault. He was later charged with first-degree murder, and police said they did not believe he acted alone. He faces a detention hearing on Thursday.
Authorities said that about 11 p.m. June 30, the victim was lured to the city’s Fairview section by a ruse of delivering a platter of food. Police said an unidentified woman working with Beverly placed the order and told Jenkins, who aspired to be a chef, to deliver the food to a house on Congress Road.
The victim’s father told The Inquirer that his son drove to the location with two friends, his girlfriend, and his little brother. He got out of the car and walked toward the house, but never came back. When Jenkins didn’t answer his cell phone, one of his friends frantically called his father, who said he was at SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia.
Jenkins Jr. said he drove to the house, where he met up with his son’s friends, and banged on the front and side doors. He got no answer and returned to his house on Mechanic Street to see whether his son had showed up. He reported his son missing around 2 a.m.
“The whole time I was thinking he must have been abducted,” Jenkins Jr., 39, told The Inquirer.
Beverly and others allegedly forced Jenkins III into Beverly’s blue Chevrolet Uplander, tied him up, and blindfolded him before driving him through Camden, authorities said. About 3 a.m. on July 1, with Jenkins III held captive, Beverly allegedly parked in the area of Third Street and Kaighns Avenue. Carr and another man, whom police have yet to name, entered a house, armed with handguns, and stole at least one cell phone and a wallet, according to court records.
Beverly’s girlfriend, Jessica Stokes, led investigators to the garage where Jenkins III was found dead, authorities said. Stokes told investigators that Beverly came to her crying and told her that "things got messed up,” court records show. He confessed to her that he grew frustrated when Jenkins III’s family did not meet his ransom demands, and so he took Jenkins to the garage, she told investigators.
Investigators eventually tracked Beverly to Woodbury, where inside Stokes’ apartment they found a handgun on a child’s bunk bed and a wallet from one of the robbery victims, court records state. Efforts by The Inquirer to locate Stokes, 29, have been unsuccessful.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, Carr was identified in a video and a photograph distributed by police on social media. A source contacted police on July 4 and identified Carr in the photo, and said Carr wanted to surrender to police, the document said.
A cell phone stolen in the robbery was used to call the stepmother of Jenkins’ III, Nakia Henry, around 3 a.m. on July 1, police said. The caller, later identified by police as Beverly, demanded a ransom. Henry handed the phone to Jenkins Jr. and Beverly said he wanted “10 to 15 pounds of weed."
Authorities have said that Beverly and Jenkins III were not strangers, and that Beverly had a “motive” for the alleged kidnapping and murder, but they would not elaborate.
At his Camden home last week, Jenkins Jr. said he was so scared and puzzled by Beverly’s demand for marijuana that he hung up on him. About an hour later, about 4 a.m. on July 1, Jenkins Jr. said, he received a text message with a photo of his son tied up and held captive in an unknown location. The text message triggered a massive search for Jenkins III by authorities, family, and friends.
On Monday, Jenkins Sr. said he was still reeling from the loss of his grandson.
“All I know is, my grandson lost his life for whatever it was, it had nothing to do with him,” Jenkins Sr. said. “It was senseless.”
“It’s still hard for me to believe he’s gone,” he added. "I’m looking forward to seeing how all these pieces fit together. Because right now, it makes no sense.”
A 2017 graduate of Haddon Heights High School, Jenkins III had a passion for cooking and was considering enrolling in culinary school, friends said. He worked part-time at the Camden County Clerk’s Office.