They believe they have.
Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella announced on Friday, March 24, that two arrests were made in an ongoing investigation into what killed 29-year-old Michelle Edoo of Bergenfield, a nursing student and single mom who worked with three of the other victims at the Cheesecake Factory in the mall off westbound Route 4.
Paterson residents Garfield Jones, a 48-year-old Jamaican national who works as a restaurant cook, and Robert McCrae, a 52-year-old student bus aide, have already been released from the Bergen County Jail under New Jersey’s bail reform law.
That's because it's too soon to bring charges of strict liability for a drug-induced death, authorities say.
What role either man allegedly played will be determined, to a large degree, by the results of toxicology tests that are part of an autopsy conducted by the Bergen County Medical Examiner's Office, Musella said.
For now, Jones is charged with possession of heroin and cocaine with the intent to sell it, along with illegal possession of prescription drugs, while McCrae is charged with lesser drug and drug paraphernalia possession counts.
Meanwhile, a memorial gathering for Edoo is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, March 25, followed by a prayer service, at Boulevard Funeral Home and Cremation Service, 1151 River Road in New Milford.
SEE: Michelle Kerry Eddo (Boulevard Funeral Home and Cremation Service)
Co-workers have launched a GoFundMe page that aims to support Edoo’s daughter, Ava. A family member told Daily Voice she's spoken with them and “verified their good intentions."
“The money will go to Ava,” she said.
SEE: To the future of Ava (Michelle's Daughter)
Edoo was the youngest of five women who were sharing cocaine in the lower parking garage of what's better known as the Riverside Square Mall on March 15 when things suddenly went very wrong, responders said.
Some of the women had apparently been in an SUV about 50 feet from the entrance of a business at the complex, and at least one other was in a vehicle parked nearby, a witness told Daily Voice.
"It's in the area where people go to get high," he said.
What the women apparently didn't know, investigators said, was that the cocaine they were snorting had been laced with fentanyl.
Edoo, who was the youngest of the victims -- ages 29 to 41 -- staggered toward the middle of the lot before collapsing, witnesses told Daily Voice.
She remained unresponsive despite CPR efforts, first by passersby who included a nurse practitioner, then by police and EMS.
Two of the victims quickly came around but still weren't fully conscious at the time, said an employee of a nearby business who was among those who initially dashed over to help.
The fifth woman was "clearly very high" and trying to revive Edoo when she was pulled away by responders, he said.
Edoo was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center, along with three other victims. The woman who was trying to revive her was treated at the scene, responders said.
Edoo never regained consciousness following the tragic episode. She was declared brain dead and taken off life support last Saturday, March 18, loved ones said.
They described Edoo as someone who was “always smiling, laughing and cracking jokes.” Underneath it all, however, they said, “she always supported and pushed the people she loved and cared for toward their dreams.
“Michelle would come into work on her days off, just to check in on her friends she hadn't seen during the last shift,” they wrote.
Edoo always spoke with great love and deep compassion, her co-workers said. She also had a drive to succeed, having passed a critical nursing school exam within just the past two weeks while somehow managing to pull a full-time shift at the Cheesecake Factory.
“More than anything, Michelle worshipped her daughter Ava, and took pride in telling anyone who would listen about how captivating she is,” her co-workers wrote. “It is not only our honor but our duty to make sure that Michelle's memory is not in vain.
“We would love to help Michelle's family and child as much as possible with any funds, donations, or just overall assistance for Ava in light of Michelle's sudden passing.”
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