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No love lost

Police say Cherry Hill grandmother tried to hire someone to rough up her family. He was a cop.

The front garden area of Suzanne Cohen's Cherry Hill home.  Police say she tried to hire an undercover cop to beat her ex-husband, son and daughter. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)
The front garden area of Suzanne Cohen's Cherry Hill home. Police say she tried to hire an undercover cop to beat her ex-husband, son and daughter. (Yong Kim / Staff Photographer)Read more

MOM MOM's house, according to its lawn signs, was a place for hugs and kisses, where bright flowers mingled with ornamental owls and crabs, and a "spoiled-rotten" dog could stretch out on the lush, green lawn.

Appearances meant everything to Suzanne Cohen, but neighbors said that the well-kept facade of her Balsam Road home couldn't mask the chaos inside. None of those neighbors was surprised yesterday that the 72-year-old grandmother has found herself a new home - the Camden County Jail.

Cherry Hill police said that Cohen, after years of harassing her family, allegedly tried to hire a thug to lay a whupping on her ex-husband, and her adult daughter and son. Police won't say how they came in contact with Cohen three weeks ago, but she was arrested on Friday after telling an undercover officer she wanted to "inflict serious bodily injury" to the three, police said.

Cohen was charged with three counts of conspiracy and remains in the county jail on $300,000 bail.

"Her husband and kids had basically disowned her," Lt. William Kushina said. "Over the course of the year, we've accumulated a thick file on her.

"There's a long history of problems in this family."

Neighbors agreed.

"They've been fighting for 30 years," said a male neighbor who asked not to be identified. "There is friction in that family that is char-broiled."

Roslyn Wynne, who lived behind the Cohens for decades, said that Suzanne Cohen's children and grandchildren never visited the home, and that Cohen had been forbidden to visit the nearby Katz Jewish Community Center, where her estranged family attended.

Wynne said Cohen's closest friend was her black dog, Molly.

"There were no happy times there," said Wynne.

Other neighbors said that most of Cohen's issues were directed at her ex-husband, Gerald, who moved out of the house years ago. Neighbors said that she chided them if they talked with him. One female neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said that Cohen once asked if she could hide food in her refrigerator, fearing Gerald would eat it.

"She was peculiar, and not interesting peculiar, but the kind of peculiar you want to stay away from," said the woman.

Even the dog was a source of contention between the former couple.

"They shared custody of the dog," said the anonymous male neighbor. "But if she would go on vacation while she had the dog, she would put it in a shelter rather than let him watch it."

Across town, at Cohen's daughter's house, an older man was washing a black dog yesterday afternoon. Family members there declined to comment.

Neighbors in Cohen's tree-lined neighborhood said that her husband wasn't easy to get along with, either, and allegedly drove one neighbor away by constantly starting his boat at all hours.

The Cohens once owned the New England Motel, in North Wildwood, and neighbors said they believe that Suzanne volunteered at an animal shelter.

According to Kushina, family members had accused her of leaving them threatening notes, visiting them unannounced at work, and even possibly vandalizing their property. The family tried, unsuccessfully, to get restraining orders against her, Kushina added. She has not been convicted of any crimes in New Jersey, according to court records.

One neighbor said that Cohen had embraced her newfound freedom, traveling all around the world with tour groups. A Jersey Shore newspaper posted a picture of Cohen holding one of their papers at the Panama Canal. She doesn't appear to be smiling.