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Former Marine Charged with Murder of Two Girls in New Jersey

June 23, 1962 - An 18-year-old former member of the Marine Corps was charged today with the murder of two teenage girls whose bodies were found Thursday in a wooded area in Morris Township, N.J. The prisoner, James H. Vance Jr., was a schoolmate of the victims, Margaret Ann Kennedy, 16, and Noreen Buckley, 17. The girls were bludgeoned to death last Wednesday night. Mr. Vance, who had enlisted in the Marine Corps for a four-year hitch, was given an honorable medical discharge last September after six months of service. Frank C. Scerbo, the Morris County Prosecutor, said that he had learned from Marine Corps authorities that Vance had been discharged after receiving psychiatric treatment. Neither of the girls, who were close friends, had been sexually molested. During questioning on Thursday, Vance admitted that he had met them at the Colonial Luncheon Shoppe in Morristown. He was questioned for six hours and submitted to a lie detector test. He was released at 6 a.m. Friday but kept under surveillance. Meanwhile, the police were checking his story that he had had a scuffle with three men who were tampering with his car. He told of suffering a nosebleed in the scuffle. He reported that during the scuffle a tire iron had been taken from his car. A blood-stained, bent tire iron was found later near the spot where the girls’ bodies were found. Mr. Scerbo said that lab tests showed the tire iron was the weapon used in killing the girls. When he was picked up again this morning, the former marine maintained his innocence. The charge of murder was lodged against him this afternoon.

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