Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced today that Forrest Thomas, 45, of Newark was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Carol Spratt, his mother-in-law.
An ailing, 76-year-old woman who was on oxygen 24 hours a day, Spratt relied on Thomas to take care of her. Thomas was convicted of murdering Ms. Spratt and disturbing human remains on Friday, Dec. 16, 2011 before the Honorable Peter V. Ryan, J.S.C. Today Judge Ryan sentenced Thomas to life in prison. Prior to this murder, Thomas had three convictions for robbery, receiving stolen property and narcotics.
According to Assistant Prosecutor Michele Miller, who tried the case, on Jan. 18, 2010 two junk collectors found the body of Ms. Spratt, clothed in a night gown, stuffed in a garbage and placed in a shopping cart by the dumpster behind 180 South Orange Avenue in Newark. They called 911. Having no identification on her body, a missing person’s investigation was launched. It revealed that the victim was Ms. Spratt.
Officers discovered that on Jan. 13, Thomas had been permanently banned from Garden Senior Apartments, owned by New Community Corporation, because he was abusive to Ms. Spratt and was stealing from her. That was the last time she was seen alive.
After killing the victim, Thomas lived with her body for three days in her apartment before getting rid of her. During that period, he tried to sell the victim’s belongings to neighbors, telling them she had tripped over her oxygen cord, was in the hospital, but would be moving to Florida when she was released.
In fact, Thomas stuffed her dead body in two garbage bags, put her inside a shopping cart and wheeled her down the South Orange Avenue, leaving her behind 180 South Orange Avenue.
The Medical Examiner ruled her death a homicide by neck compression.
“This is a man who promised his dying wife that he would take care of her sick mother. In reality, the only person he ever took care of was himself. When Carol Spratt banned him from the building, cutting off his only source of income and the roof over his head, he killed her. We are satisfied that the sentence imposed by Judge Ryan is appropriate given the defendant’s blatant disregard for decency and human life,” said Assistant Prosecutor Miller.