Liza Murphy Missing in NJ … Husband Joseph Tries to Commit Suicide


This missing persons case just got a bit more strange and troubling. 42 year old Liza Murphy has been missing since August 19, 2007 in Bergen County, NJ. Now her husband, Joseph Murphy has tried to kill himself. What was Joseph trying to end his life over? Read more here.

Posted August 28, 2007 by
Missing Persons | 11 comments

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  • Comments

    11 Responses to “Liza Murphy Missing in NJ … Husband Joseph Tries to Commit Suicide”

    1. Patti on August 29th, 2007 3:13 pm

      I get it…

      He’d rather be DEAD than to spend
      the rest of his life in prison…

      Wouldn’t we all!

      But, the question is:

      Why do people stay in relationships that are
      violent and self-destructive? It’s too late
      for him, for he became consumed with anger…
      But for the rest of you, have some balls! If
      your wife makes you so mad that you have to
      resort to violence, leave her before you end
      up like Mr. Liza…. and you women, just LEAVE!

      These are usually the most predictable of all
      crimes. He beats her, they fuss and argue all
      the time… the police are called, they come
      and go, half the time not knowing WHO is to
      blame… and still, they stay together.

      I’ll bet EVERYONE, including members of their
      own families, at one time or another thought,
      “I think he may kill her, someday,” but then
      they close their eyes and hope for the best.

    2. Patti on August 29th, 2007 3:20 pm

      “Yeah, but I LOVE him”

      “I LOVED her, too…”

      These are the only kind of cases that
      I think that the insanity plea fits.

    3. Concerned Emerson Resident on August 29th, 2007 7:17 pm

      As someone who lives near this family…I will tell you this: he didn’t beat her, if anything it was the other way around. Liza was toxic to anything and everyone that came in contact with her. She had a rap sheet a mile long and she was not a doting soccer mom, by any stretch. Her husand took a lot of abuse and while we can all say now that he should have left: there are only 2 people in any given marraige.
      My heart breaks for their children.
      My guess? She was a known hitchhiker and I bet anything she caught a ride from the wrong person.
      I just want the children to have answers and the neighborhood to go back to normal.
      Its funny how much stuff the media leaves out. for the latest, since now it seems to be coming out (the truth)

    4. Dick Hertz on August 29th, 2007 8:15 pm

      let me guess she is married to a black man and has 10 kids

    5. Patti on August 29th, 2007 9:48 pm


      I figured it was something like that… so sad.
      He has hit her before, but she hits back! Like
      I said before, it is the only type of murder
      that I think truly meets the requirement of
      insanity… the one’s you’re pushed into.

      Just ignore the cattle crossing (wink)

    6. Patti on August 29th, 2007 10:30 pm


      Took me a while to get there, but I think I found
      what you’re talking about… Thanks!


      Missing woman’s husband says he is innocent

      Wednesday, August 29, 2007

      By JOSEPH AX

      The lawyer representing a hospitalized Emerson man declared his client’s innocence Tuesday in the disappearance of his wife, while more than 200 police officers and volunteers conducted a fruitless search of thick woods near their home.

      Liza Murphy left the house Aug. 19 after her husband, Joseph, accused her of having an affair and demanded a divorce, attorney Joseph Rem said.

      “He told her he wanted her to leave the house by the end of the week,” Rem said.

      Five days later, Joseph Murphy stepped into the path of a fire official’s car in Westwood in what police — and Rem — characterized as a suicide attempt.

      Details emerged Tuesday about previous suicide attempts or threats by both Murphys, as well as the troubles that strained their marriage.

      Liza Murphy, 42, faced two pending disorderly person complaints filed by her estranged brother, who lives across the street, and from a neighbor who often feuded with her, authorities said.

      Officers were called to the neighborhood half a dozen times in recent years on charges that had gone “back and forth,” said Emerson police Sgt. George Buono.

      He also confirmed allegations by Rem and others that Liza Murphy had abused prescription drugs.

      “It’s certainly one aspect of the case that we’ve looked into. It’s not the overriding thing,” said Buono, who is heading the investigation into her disappearance. “It doesn’t make me believe that she ran off any more or less than if she didn’t have a drug problem.”

      Murphy had spent more than a year and a half undergoing substance abuse counseling and individual therapy, according to a court document filed Monday by the state Division of Youth and Family Services seeking custody of the couple’s three children.

      But a woman who says she has been best friends with Liza Murphy for 27 years dismissed the idea that she had addiction problems.

      “She wasn’t a drunk or anything or a drug addict, not at all,” said Donna Woods, a Dumont resident. “They said, ‘We want you to go,’ and she complied.”

      Woods confirmed her friend had a relationship with another man but insisted “it wasn’t sexual.”

      “It was just like friends, and maybe a little more than that. But there was no sex,” she said.

      “She was a good mom,” said Woods, who has posted fliers in stores in the hopes of finding Murphy. “She is a great friend. She liked rock-and-roll music. I have such a hole in my heart. I feel like I lost a little sister.”

      On Aug. 20, an anonymous caller informed police that Liza Murphy was missing. They interviewed her husband, who told them she’d left the house after an argument a day earlier.

      Joseph Murphy remained at Hackensack University Medical Center with severe injuries Tuesday. The couple’s three children were staying with his sister.

      Although police haven’t identified him as a suspect, Rem said Murphy hired him because he felt he was being treated as one.

      Buono said detectives interviewed Joseph Murphy several times. Despite earlier reports that he’d been uncooperative, Murphy has answered all of their questions, and his answers have remained consistent, the sergeant said.

      Rem said his client is a recovering alcoholic who hasn’t had a drink in 11 years. Murphy has been treated for depression, he said, and 17 years ago attempted suicide when the couple separated.

      “The pressure of her being missing and him being a suspect in a murder that never occurred drove him to despondency,” Rem said.

      He said Murphy wrote three suicide notes — one to his sister, one to his children, and one to his wife “because he believed, and still believes, that she was alive.”

      As the lawyer spoke, police officers from dozens of departments and numerous civilian volunteers continued a daylong search that turned up no clues.

      In the absence of genuine leads, authorities said, it was their best option.

      Divided into 20 teams, the searchers covered about 375 acres, including Emerson Woods, the United Water property near the Oradell Reservoir, Westwood Cemetery, Pascack Brook Park and the reservoir’s shoreline, said police Capt. David Hayes.

      With search-and-rescue volunteers guiding them, the teams pushed their way through chest-high brush and tangled brambles. They used electronic markers to denote anything suspicious, so that a GPS device could be used to locate the items later.

      By 6:45 p.m., Mat Buonomo, a carpenter and bodyguard from Emerson, was going out on his fourth search of the area.

      “My wife, Charlene, is an EMT,” Buonomo said. “We’d hope people would be out looking if it were someone close to us.

      “Being a bodyguard, I’ve done other searches before, but never for a missing person. Every little thing that’s around — everything you’re walking around or over — has you asking, ‘Is this or could this be evidence of where she is?’ ”

      Court papers filed by DYFS in Hackensack show that caseworkers were called to the Murphy home several times beginning in 2002, based on anonymous referrals and reports from Emerson police. The claims were never substantiated, the documents say.

      In 2005, however, a New Jersey hospital worker told DYFS that Liza Murphy had called a suicide hot line, saying she wanted to kill herself, according to the papers, filed in family court. Murphy was involuntarily committed to a hospital and agreed to undergo therapy and substance abuse treatment as part of a “case plan” developed by the agency, the filing says.

      As recently as May of this year, it says, Liza Murphy told a case worker that she felt depressed and was “uncertain” whether she was having suicidal thoughts. The worker passed the information to Murphy’s therapist, it says.

      Police have said that Murphy was being treated for depression.

      Andy Williams, a DYFS spokesman, cited privacy rules in declining to comment on specific cases.

      In a hypothetical situation where no parent is available to care for children and DYFS is made aware of the matter, the agency’s practice is to seek custody and make sure the children are in a suitable home. The first preference is with a relative.

      Staff Writers Leslie Brody and Evonne Coutros contributed to this article. E-mail:


    7. Patti on August 30th, 2007 12:10 am


      It’s hard to believe that the husband is the ONLY
      suspect in this case. Like I said, it could have
      been the “friend”, her estranged brother (who
      lives across the street), the neighbor (that she
      didn’t get along with) or a stranger who made the
      anonymous missing person report…

      At any rate, I think that she was pushed and died
      of a head injury. She is covered in a tarp and
      is lying face up in a slighly wooded area, near
      some railroad tracks. Her body has been covered
      by brush.

      But that is only my opinion as I wouldn’t put it
      passed this woman to fake her disappearance just
      for the fun of reeking havok on other people’s

      Where ever she is, may she go in peace.

    8. Concerned Emerson Resident on August 30th, 2007 11:08 am

      First of all, the brother was on vacation…as was the neighbor who didn’t get along with her. It turns out that a friend was the one who reported her missing. The boyfriend has also been investigated at length, I believe.
      Patti~ Are you psychic? U seem to be very detailed in your description of where Liza may be.
      INteresting! There have been sightings (not sure if they are credible or not) as far away as Chicago. Who knows. She is totally unstable and capable of benig alive and doing this for the hell of it. Yes, she is that sick and twisted.
      Stay tuned

    9. Patti on August 30th, 2007 1:15 pm

      No… the sitings are not her. She’s gone. I
      don’t know how psychic I am, but I do get an
      inclination on certain cases. I don’t usually
      post my feelings, but I find this case intriguing
      because I’m sure that whoever was with Liza is
      not REALLY responsible for her death. I think
      it was an accident and that she died in a scuffle
      From then on, everything was done in a haze or a
      rage of anger and fear that led to insanity. I,
      honestly, think that she pushed him beyond what
      he could stand. I don’t think there was any
      intention of murder. Just an attempt to get away.

      I feel sorry for her children. This has to be
      hard on them. I pray that their broken hearts
      will mend and their futures will be bright. This
      is so sad and is going to be, especially, hard on

    10. Retha on August 30th, 2007 2:35 pm

      What was Liza’s maiden name?? I think I grew up with her years ago. Picture looks like the same Liza. Her maiden name was Palmer I think I spelled that right.

    11. Patti on August 30th, 2007 11:07 pm

      Stymied cops retracing steps in missing mom case

      Thursday, August 30, 2007

      By JOSEPH AX

      With no new leads or evidence about the disappearance of an Emerson mother following a massive daylong search, police said Wednesday that they are retracing their investigative steps.

      Detectives will re-interview friends and family members of Liza Murphy, as well as others who might have seen or spoken with her since Aug. 19, said Emerson Police Chief Michael Saudino. They will also seek to talk again with Joseph Murphy, the chief said.

      “If he truly wants to find where his wife is, we should be working together,” Saudino said. “Whatever small lead there is, we guarantee that we will follow them through to the fullest.”

      Murphy remained at Hackensack University Medical Center on Thursday with injuries he sustained when he walked in front of a fire official’s vehicle a week ago, in what police and his lawyer said was a suicide attempt.

      The lawyer, Joseph Rem, said Tuesday that his client had “cooperated extensively” and would continue to do so. He also said he had offered to arrange another interview with police, but hadn’t yet been taken up on it.

      Neighbors said late Wednesday that police had already returned to the Murphys’ Broad Street home with dogs and searched the back yard but appeared to come up empty. The home has remained cordoned off since last week, when investigators searched inside and towed Liza Murphy’s Jeep from the driveway.

      On Wednesday, more than 200 emergency workers and volunteers fanned out into wooded areas in Emerson and Westwood in an unsuccessful search for signs of the 42-year-old mother of three.

      “We’re convinced at this point that she’s not in any of those areas,” Saudino said Wednesday.

      The couple’s children remained with an aunt.

      The case has drawn an intense media spotlight, amid reports of depression, substance abuse and alleged adultery.

      Saudino said police have received numerous reports from witnesses claiming to have seen Liza Murphy from as far away as Chicago. They will pursue those calls that are deemed credible, the chief said.

      In several interviews with them, detectives have said, Joseph Murphy has told them he and his wife had an argument on Aug. 19, and she left the house on foot without anything but the clothes she was wearing.

      Rem said the argument stemmed from his client’s belief that his wife was having an affair.

      Two close friends of Liza Murphy’s both confirmed that she had developed a close friendship with another man, but said the relationship wasn’t sexual. One of them said the two apparently met at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

      A court document filed this week by the state Division of Youth and Family Services revealed that Liza Murphy had been receiving counseling for abusing prescription drugs and alcohol use, as well as individual therapy sessions for more than 18 months.

      The same filing said she had called a suicide hot line in 2005 and was involuntarily committed to a hospital.

      Rem said Joseph Murphy also suffered from depression and had tried to commit suicide 17 years ago when the couple separated for a time.


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