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'The Rabbi,' Rikers Island Inmate Charged In Eagle Rock Reservation Murder

Kelsey Steels was shot and killed by Posley Sulaiman and Michael Verdel, authorities said.
Kelsey Steels was shot and killed by Posley Sulaiman and Michael Verdel, authorities said. Photo Credit: Essex County Prosecutor's Office/Facebook photo

Two out-of-state men have been charged with murder after bringing a New York man from his apartment to the Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange and shooting him dead earlier this year, authorities said.

Michael Verdel, 71, of the Bronx and Posley Sulaiman, 31, of Detroit, MI, gunned down Steels on a hiking trail at the West Orange reservation March 4, Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore N. Stephens, II, said.

Verdel, who is referred to as “the rabbi’’ by those who know him, was taken into custody in New York and has been extradited to New Jersey. He was being held on charges of murder, felony murder, conspiracy and robbery, Stephens said alongside Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura.

A detention hearing is scheduled for Monday, May 16. Verdel.

The second suspect, Sulaiman, remains in custody in New York at Rikers Island on a New York gun charge. He was scheduled to appear in court in New York today. In New Jersey, he is charged with murder, felony murder, conspiracy and robbery – all first-degree offenses. He is also charged with two weapons offenses – unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Sulaiman and Verdel met Steels at Verdel’s apartment in the Bronx then brought him to New Jersey where he was shot at Eagle Rock reservation.

The investigation remains active and ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Essex County Prosecutor's Office tips line at 1-877-TIPS-4EC or 1-877-847-7432. Calls will be kept confidential.

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