FEBRUARY 10, 2023
AUTHORITIES RELEASE MOTIVE IN FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION
FRANKLIN TWP., N.J. – Somerset County Prosecutor John P. McDonald, Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Chief of County Detectives John W. Fodor, Franklin Township Public Safety Director Quovella M. Maeweather, and Bridgewater Township Chief of Police John B. Mitzak announced an on-going homicide investigation in Franklin Township (Somerset County), New Jersey.
Prosecutor McDonald stated that on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, at approximately 7:02 a.m. Franklin Township Police responded to multiple 9-1-1 calls reporting a shooting victim within the parking lot of PSEG, on Weston Canal Road, Somerset, New Jersey. Responding Officers encountered a deceased adult male suffering from a gunshot wound. Emergency Medical Personnel from an area Trauma Center responded to the scene where the male was pronounced deceased. Authorities identified the decedent as Russell D. Heller, age 51, Milford, New Jersey. Mr. Heller was actively employed with PSEG at the Somerset facility.
Prosecutor McDonald stated that detectives from the Franklin Township Police Department along with the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit, the Crime Scene Investigations Unit, and investigators from the New Jersey Northern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the scene to conduct the investigation. The investigation revealed that a former employee of PSEG, whom authorities identified as Gary T. Curtis, age 58, Washington, New Jersey approached Mr. Heller in the parking lot, shooting him outside of his vehicle.
Prosecutor McDonald stated that at approximately 10:20 a.m. detectives assigned to the investigation were able to track Mr. Curtis to a parking lot area in Bridgewater Township, New Jersey. With the assistance of Bridgewater Township Police Officers, authorities approached the vehicle Mr. Curtis was operating and observed him suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Mr. Curtis was in possession of a firearm. Medical personnel were requested to the scene and Mr. Curtis was pronounced deceased.
Prosecutor McDonald stated that the investigation has revealed that the motive for the homicide in which Mr. Curtis fatally shot Mr. Heller was due to prior employment disciplinary actions between subordinate and supervisor. Mr. Curtis was a former employee of PSE&G. The investigation has revealed that the shooting was an isolated incident and Mr. Heller was the intended target. Mr. Heller was fatally shot outside of his vehicle upon his arrival for work at the PSE&G facility. The handgun revolver utilized by Mr. Curtis, which was found on his person when he was located deceased by authorities from a self-inflicted gunshot wound was legally registered to him. Investigators have confirmed that Mr. Heller was a Republican Councilman for Milford Borough (Hunterdon County). The investigation has revealed that the shooting of Mr. Heller was not politically connected with his elected office or political affiliation.
Prosecutor McDonald, Chief Fodor, and Director Maeweather request anyone with information relating to the homicide to contact the Somerset County Prosecutors Office Major Crimes Unit at (908) 231-7100 or the Franklin Township Police Department at (732) 873-5533 or via the STOPit app. The STOPit app allows citizens to provide anonymous reports including videos and photos. STOPit can be downloaded to your smart phone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: SOMERSETNJ. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477). All anonymous STOPit reports, and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.
NOTE: The following information is based on a preliminary and ongoing investigation, which continues to evolve as investigators interview witnesses, review physical and electronic records, and analyze forensic evidence. The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office’s understanding of the facts and circumstances may change as additional evidence is collected and analyzed.