Pair of alleged hit men confess to slaying rabbis wife

PHILADELPHIA — Two men have confessed to acting as "hit men" for a Philadelphia-area rabbi who has been charged in connection with his wife's slaying in 1994.

Leonard Jenoff, 54, of Collingswood, N.J., and Paul Michael Daniels, 26, of Pennsauken, N.J., were arraigned Tuesday on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the bludgeoning death of Carol Neulander, 52, on Nov. 1, 1994.

Rabbi Fred J. Neulander had already been scheduled for a June 19 trial on charges of accomplice murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The trial has been delayed indefinitely.

Neulander, 57, who founded what became the largest synagogue in Cherry Hill, N.J., was long suspected in the killing but was not charged until 1998. He resigned as the synagogue's spiritual leader three months after his wife's death, after reports surfaced about extramarital affairs with congregants.

Neudlander's attorney, Jeffrey C. Zucker, said that the rabbi is "as shocked as all of us" about the alleged hit men. "He has no idea what this is all about and, as before, strongly professes his innocence."

Jenoff, who has on many occasions called Neulander "my rabbi" and described himself as the rabbi's friend, allegedly confessed his role in the murder last Friday at a meeting with prosecutor Lee Solomon and Martin Devlin, an investigator in the prosecutor's office.

The meeting was said to have been arranged through Nancy Phillips, a staff writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer who has been covering the Neulander case since the time of the homicide.

Phillips, acting as an intermediary at Jenoff's behest, brought the three together at an area diner, according to Greg Reinert, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office.

According to Tuesday's Philadelphia Inquirer, Jenoff allegedly told Solomon that Neulander had offered him $30,000 to kill a woman the rabbi had described to him as "an enemy of Israel."

Jenoff, who purportedly did not know that the woman was the rabbi's wife, allegedly made an attempt to carry out the murder plot in late October 1994 at the address Neulander had given him in the Wexford Leas section of Cherry Hill, but he found his intended victim speaking on a cell phone and he aborted his attempt.

Jenoff then allegedly enlisted the help of Daniels, his roommate at the time, offering him $7,500 to carry out the murder. Daniels allegedly committed the murder when he and Jenoff returned to the Neulander home on the night of Nov. 1.

At the accused murderers' arraignment on Tuesday in a courtroom packed with media, police officers and attorneys, both Solomon and assistant prosecutor James Lynch recounted the state's case.

Jenoff "has made an admission that he made an agreement to kill Carol Neulander. The agreement was made with Fred Neulander. This defendant went with the co-defendant with the planned purpose to commit murder," Lynch said.

Turning to the other defendant, Lynch said, "Mr. Daniels has admitted he entered into an agreement to kill Mrs. Neulander."

The prosecutor charged that Daniel, accompanied by Jenoff and carrying a blunt instrument, entered the Cherry Hill residence on Nov. 1, 1994, on a mission to murder. "He used that instrument to strike Mrs. Neulander on the head repeatedly."

Jenoff's bail was set at $200,00 while Daniels' bail was set at $400,000.