|Born||August 14, 1941|
|Criminal status||In prison|
Fred Neulander (born August 14, 1941), a Reform rabbi, was convicted of paying two men to carry out a "hit" on his wife Carol Neulander, who was murdered in the family home in 1994. He is currently serving a prison term of 30 years to life in Trenton, New Jersey.
Neulander was the founding Rabbi of the Congregation M'Kor Shalom Reform Temple in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, United States, which opened in the summer of 1974. Previously, he had been the assistant Rabbi at Temple Emanuel, also in Cherry Hill. Neulander graduated from Trinity College in 1963. He was convicted of paying congregant Len Jenoff and drifter Paul Daniels $18,000 to kill his wife Carol on November 1, 1994. The case became a media circus and was broadcast live on CourtTV. In February 1995, he resigned as Rabbi from Congregation M'Kor Shalom.
At the time of his wife's murder, Fred had been involved in a two-year-long affair with Philadelphia radio personality Elaine Soncini. The affair began after he visited Soncini's Jewish husband, Ken Garland, in the hospital and later officiated at Garland's funeral. "So compelling was Rabbi Neulander that Soncini later converted from Catholicism to Judaism under his tutelage."
Tried before Judge Linda G. Baxter, the first trial resulted in a hung jury. It had been empaneled in Camden County. Area newspapers reported rumors that the panel hung 9-3 in favor of guilt. Due to the intense media coverage in Camden County, the re-trial was moved to Monmouth County. At the re-trial, Neulander was defended by Mt. Holly attorney Mike Riley. In Monmouth, Fred Neulander was found guilty. Neulander's son Matthew, whose testimony at the first trial had been lukewarm, was by the time of the second trial thoroughly convinced of his father's guilt, which was reflected in his testimony. Following the verdict, Assistant Prosecutor Jim Lynch submitted to the jury on the question of the death penalty which the jury panel declined. Neulander was sentenced to serve 30 years to life in New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. In an interview by ABC's Barbara Walters after his incarceration, he told her “You have no idea how much rage I have.” He was also saddened that two of his three adult children testified against him.
In December 2006, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Courts denied Fred Neulander's appeal. His appellate counsel had argued that the trial Court had erred in not permitting Neulander to argue a third party liability defense based on a similar home invasion burglary murder that had occurred in Cherry Hill. Neulander had also argued Court error on the issue of double or triple layer "hearsay" evidence; i.e., the out-of-court statement by Carol Neulander as elicited by and through her daughter, about the telephone conversation involving the "bathroom man." Although an appeal and post-conviction relief application were planned, Neulander's best chance at a new trial had been lost. He is currently incarcerated in the New Jersey State Prison.
- Hanley, Robert. "Younger Son Asks Jury to Spare Rabbi's Life", The New York Times, November 22, 2002. Accessed January 1, 2008.
- "Dj Apologizes For Affair With Rabbi Elaine Soncini Called Her Affair With Rabbi Neulander A "Mistake." Police Are Probing His Wife's Death. - Philly.com". Articles.philly.com. 1995-08-22. Retrieved 2014-07-15.
- Neulander's oldest son calls father `coward'
- Complete Court TV coverage of Fred Neulander "hit men for hire" case
- Courier Post Online (Multiple articles about the case and trials). Accessed Nov. 3 2012.
- True Crime Book Reviews: Broken Vows by Eric Francis. Includes updates current as of March 2011.