NEWARK, N.J. – A New Jersey man convicted last month of murdering three people, including two young children, over a Facebook post in 2016 has been sentenced to serve 375 years in prison.
Jeremy Arrington, 32, was sentenced Friday on a total of 28 charges, including murder, attempted murder, burglary and criminal restraint. According to NJ.com, the total sentence included three consecutive 75-year sentences and three 50-year sentences.
Essex County Superior Court Judge Ronald Wigler described the crime as unfathomable. Arrington will be eligible for parole in 281 years, the news outlet reported.
Arrington stabbed siblings Ariel Little Whitehurst, 7, and Al-Jahon Whitehurst, 11, to death Nov. 5, 2016, in their family’s Newark apartment, authorities said. He also fatally shot family friend Syasia McBurroughs, 23, of Cedar Knolls, that day after spending at least 90 minutes torturing and mutilating his victims with knives.
The children’s mother and her 13-year-old twin siblings were also stabbed but survived, NJ.com reported. A child hiding in a closet was able to call a family member who subsequently dialed 911.
Arrington fled the scene but was captured the next day following a police standoff.
Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Justin Edwab described Arrington as “pure evil.” He said the convicted killer deserves each of the years he will spend in New Jersey State Prison.
Assistant Prosecutor Chelsea Coleman agreed.
“While nothing can bring back the lives of Ariel, Al-Jahon, and Syasia, we hope today’s sentence will provide some sense of closure to their families,” Coleman said in a statement.
The judge had harsh words for Arrington as he delivered the killer’s sentence.
“You committed perhaps the most horrific, heinous, cruel and depraved murders this country has ever seen,” Wigler told Arrington. “This case may be the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Bilqis Karam, the slain children’s aunt, recalled Friday what she witnessed after Arrington broke into the family’s home and tied up everyone inside, including her. She remembered how her young niece screamed as Arrington attacked her in the bathroom.
“After a while, she stopped screaming,” Karam told the court.
Arrington also put a gun in Karam’s mouth and threatened to killer her.
“I cannot unsee that. I want to unsee that,” Karam said, according to NJ.com. “He really should have killed me that day. I don’t want to feel this pain anymore.”
‘House of horrors’
Arrington, a convicted felon, was facing charges in an earlier shooting and sexual assault when he went to the Whitehurst home armed with a handgun on Nov. 5, 2016. According to prosecutors, he was angry because Ariel and Al-Jahon’s mother, whom he had known for several years, had reposted a Facebook alert from police about the outstanding charges against him.
Karam said the day of the murders began as a typical Saturday for the family, who ate breakfast together shortly before Arrington arrived at their home in the 100 block of Hedden Terrace.
He broke in and tied up all nine people in the home at the time, authorities said. The Associated Press reported that he then spent more than an hour going from one victim to the next and stabbing them with a knife before returning to his already-injured victims and repeating the assault.
One adult and two children, including the girl who summoned help, escaped the ordeal without injury.
The crime shocked the city and prompted both area residents and city officials to call for a stop to violence in Newark, particularly violence against children, according to NJ.com.
“This is not a normal thing and we are not going to get used to it in the city of Newark,” Mayor Ras Baraka said at the time.
Watch authorities discuss the crime below.
During Arrington’s sentencing, Wigler, the judge, described the scene of the murders as a “house of horrors.” Edwab, the prosecutor, said the killer treated the home, which belongs to the slain children’s grandmother, like “an amusement park” as he went from one person to another and tortured them.
“He caused as much pain as he could to that family,” Edwab said, according to NJ.com.
Arrington apologized to the victims and their families, describing his own actions as “craziness” and “uncalled for,” the outlet reported. The families of those murdered refused his apology.
“This has brought me nothing but pain and misery, and it will never go away,” said McBurroughs’ father, Mark Follis.
McBurroughs, who would have celebrated her 29th birthday last week, was set to graduate from New Jersey City University at the time of her death, according to her family. She dreamed of being a teacher for special needs children.
Arrington did not know the college student, who went to school with Karam and worked with her at Amazon. Witnesses said she begged for her life before being shot in the head.
Vanessa Karam, Ariel and Al-Jahon’s grandmother, told the court she tried to always make guests at her home feel welcome, NJ.com reported. She turned to McBurroughs’ family and apologized for being unable to keep their daughter safe.
“There are no words that can take this pain away from you,” the grandmother said.
McBurroughs’ family shouted out that they love her. They said the murders were not her fault.
“Don’t take his blame,” one family member told her, according to NJ.com.
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