Facial Recognition Helps Catch Murderers

(FiveNation.com)- Last week, two New Jersey brothers were charged with the murder of a 63-year-old Newark grandmother who was killed in a drive-by shooting as she was celebrating her birthday on her front porch last year.

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office announced last Monday that Jonathan Ritchie, 21, and his brother Josiah Ritchie, 19 have been arrested in connection to the March 11, 2021 death of Debra Derrick who was shot and killed while attempting to shield her grandchildren from gunfire.

According to authorities, the two brothers were identified based on information provided by the getaway driver and through facial recognition software used on images captured from surveillance video taken near the scene of the shooting.

Detectives had released photos of the suspects captured from surveillance video at the time of the shooting. The photos were also sent to the NYPD’s facial identification lab which found a possible match to Jonathan and Josiah Ritchie of Newark.

The brothers were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and weapons charges.

Not long after Derrick’s murder, police identified the getaway driver who provided information about the shooting. According to charging documents, the brothers asked the unidentified driver for a ride to the area. When the driver took the suspects to the neighborhood, they exited the car, opened fire, then ran back, jumping into the car. As the driver left, one of the shooters admitted hitting Derrick.

Debra Derrick was not the intended target of the shooting.

The driver told investigators that he didn’t know the names of the two suspects, but was aware that they were brothers. The driver described the pair as having accents “like they were from the islands.”

The Ritchie Brothers are originally from Guyana.

Prosecutors offered no motive for the shooting.

Debra Derrick was a former certified nursing assistant with Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

Jonathan and Josiah Ritchie are currently being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Newark.