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April  17

Murder Suspect No Longer Under House Arrest

Herbert Maisenbacher, the Verona resident accused of murdering Joan Galligan in Glen Ridge on December 7, entered a not-guilty plea in court this morning. Meanwhile, the requirement that he be confined to his house, originally set as a condition of his $250,000 cash bail, was lifted.

Galligan's daughter, Kimberly Cicala, shook her head and sighed audibly when she heard that Maisenbacher, who wore a suit to court, would no longer be subject to house arrest. "It's very disappointing," she said afterwards. "He's an alleged murderer. He resides in a residential neighborhod. I live a few towns over and it makes me extremely nervous. I have a genuine concern."

Judge Donald Volkert reiterated that there was to be no contact between Maisenbacher and the victim's family -- either in person or "by phone, by mail, by fax."

In the hallway after the arraignment, Cicala conducted an impromptu news conference in front of a throng of reporters, representing the New York Times, the Glen Ridge Voice, Channel 2 News, Baristanet and others.

"Today was a very difficult day," said Cicala, who said she had "very mixed feelings, mainly bad. It's sadness and it's deeper."

Asked whether Maisenbacher had ever tried to contact her since her mother's December 7 murder, Cicala said there had been only one communication. She received flowers from his family at her mother's wake -- although the Maisenbacher family did not attend. That in itself was very strange, Cicala acknowledged, considering that the Maisenbachers had been friends with Galligan's family for 25 years. "People flew in from all over the country," Cicala said.

April 17, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink


What was the basis of the judge's decision?

Posted by: Miss Martta | Apr 17, 2006 10:34:30 AM

This now becomes the hardest time for the victim's family and friends--watching the system that once says it works for you --(during this process) seems to leave you alone and wondering-(they are there and as aggitated as you but must also work with in their confines)

-These will be hard days, to realize your mother is gone and someone who may be responsible is out and about breathing the airs of freedom-

You will need to summon strenth and faith of new proportions-stay the course and continue to be strong and determined--continue to make your mother proud- she would want you to live on and enjoy the air you too breath--you will have your day in court-stay close to friends and walk with your Faith at your side.

Posted by: cstarling | Apr 17, 2006 10:56:07 AM

I can understand why the Maisenbacher's didn't attend the wake. I, unfortunately, have a family member who murdered someone, and while my family was horrified at his crime and truly mourned the victim, we felt that any sort of contact at all would be selfish on our part. We felt that the last thing the victim's family would want would to see or hear from any of us, and that if we did try to reach out in any way, it would be to make ourselves feel better at the possible expense of the victim's family. So we left them in peace.

Maybe we were wrong to do so, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time.

Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 17, 2006 11:37:33 AM

I do not understand what's going on with this case. Why did the judge lift his house arrest? I've heard that the judge and the defense attorney are friends and it clearly apears that he is extending his friend's client every privilege. Something is terribly wrong with his decision and it bears looking into. Why should he be allowed to feel the sunshine on his face when he took the life of another human being? It's unconscienable.

Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 17, 2006 1:41:45 PM


I think you did precisely the right thing.

I am sure it is hard for the victim's family to bear this, but since he has not been found guilty he can't automatically be held.

One would hope the police are also watching him in his comings and goings.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Apr 17, 2006 1:49:00 PM


"One would hope the police are also watching him in his comings and goings."

The neighbors certainly are!

Posted by: justeL | Apr 17, 2006 1:55:20 PM

How come Martha Stewart gets house arrest and this accused murderer does not? Makes no sense.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Apr 17, 2006 2:23:45 PM

Martha Stewart's house arrest was part of her sentence *after* conviction. Maisenbacher has not yet been convicted or sentenced.

Posted by: Right of Center™ | Apr 17, 2006 2:26:00 PM

I guess I watch too much "America's Most Wanted." It would be so easy for this guy to pack up and disappear, it seems to me.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Apr 17, 2006 2:29:21 PM

What happened to "innocent until proven guilty"!!! I can't imagine the pain the victim's family is experiencing. I can't imagine the pain the accused's family is experiencing. One can only hope and pray for all of them. Why not be patient until we have more facts? Do any of us really know anything other than speculation and "supposed" evidence? I think once the prosecutor has presented motive, method and evidence conclusions can then be drawn. For now, all we seem to have are people who are rushing to judgement without proof.Remember that things can appear to be something that maybe they are not.

Posted by: Denise | Apr 17, 2006 2:49:55 PM

Sounds like Denise is a voice of reason. Let the case take its proper legal course. Has a trial date been set?

Posted by: Peace | Apr 17, 2006 3:29:30 PM

Hopefully he's got an ankle braclet to monitor his movements.

Posted by: RadonMan | Apr 17, 2006 3:31:51 PM

It has been a difficult day, but with each step we take we come closer to justice. I, along with family and friends, waited what seemed like an eternity to see Mr. Maisenbacher in court, face to face, but it was well worth the wait. The few seconds that he and I maintained eye contact sufficed to allow me a look into his being. There may be only two people who know exactly what happened to my mom the night she died - she and her murderer - but those few seconds today satiated my need for any answers to questions that I currently have.

Now I will be patient and leave it to the criminal justice system to do its work. And, through my faith, I believe that there will come a time when the person who did this terrible thing to my mom will be called upon in another place for their actions.

Posted by: Kimberly Cicala | Apr 17, 2006 3:37:05 PM

Should the state, or better yet the family get to keep his (much reduced) bail money if he attempts suicide again. The bail doesn't fit the crime.

My heart felt condolences to the victims family.


Posted by: face | Apr 17, 2006 3:38:09 PM

"No" to both the ankle bracelet and trial date (the next step will be the Grand Jury).

Posted by: Kimberly Cicala | Apr 17, 2006 3:38:25 PM

kim, i worked with both your mom and the suspect for many years, and cannot tell you how sorry i am for your loss...your mom was an incredible person, intelligent, professional, kind with a sharp sense of humor. While I am surprised he looked into your eyes, I am happy that you obtained some satisfaction. If only the question of "why" could be answered. Be comforted by your sweet memories, and please know that you and your family are in the thoughts of many many people.

Posted by: anon | Apr 17, 2006 4:56:35 PM

Peace and Denise, are you out of your minds?

Mrs. Galligan was a grandmother in her late 50's, whoever killed her is clearly a depraved animal, and just as clearly a danger to himself and everyone else in our society.

There is enough evidence to charge this guy with her murder, which means that the County Prosecutor believes both that he did it and that there is enough evidence to convict him of a crime that will hopefully send him away for the rest of his life, and that a judge believes that there is enough evidence to send him to trial. These are facts, not speculation.

Releasing this apparently very wealthy man on such a low bail amount, (let alone not confining him to house arrest) is an insult to the victim and her family, and puts the citizens of Verona and the surrounding towns at real and unnecessary risk.

This is just another example of how screwed-up the judiciary and the criminal justice system are here in NJ, and especially here in Essex County.

Posted by: Loren | Apr 17, 2006 5:20:12 PM

Agree! This is DNA we are talking about, and NOT circumstantial evidence.

Posted by: lisa | Apr 17, 2006 5:23:51 PM

Although New York has a speedier process usually within a year New Jersey homocide trilas draw out sometimes for years-

This is and has never been Law and Order nor CSI-our instant sense of justice does not work at this pace-and it is devestating to live through it ---for the victim, for the Police, for the safety for our communities....

The reality is this process will be lengthy and closure is long off and painful for all.

My thoughts go out to you --We are here for you...

Posted by: cstarling | Apr 17, 2006 7:03:07 PM

Loren: You talk about facts....the fact of the matter is that every time the prosecutor charges someone is not an automatic guilty.
I should remind you that wealth is a relative not absolute term....maybe you know how much this individual is worth?

If this individual posed a threat (risk) to the members of his community I would hope the judicial system would prevent him from being free at this time. I can only speculate that they do not.

Posted by: peace | Apr 17, 2006 8:13:37 PM


As has been reported, Mr. Maisenbacher was able to post $250,000 cash bail immediately upon his return to NJ from FL. I don't fault him for being able to do so - I am sure many years of hard work support that ability. But the fact of the matter is that not many people could come up with that kind of cash on the spot - even with equity in a home, etc. He has means.

Posted by: Kimberly Cicala | Apr 17, 2006 8:21:29 PM


As has been reported, Mr. Maisenbacher was able to post $250,000 cash bail immediately upon his return to NJ from FL. I don't fault him for being able to do so - I am sure many years of hard work support that ability. But the fact of the matter is that not many people could come up with that kind of cash on the spot - even with equity in a home, etc. He has means.

Posted by: Kimberly Cicala | Apr 17, 2006 8:21:56 PM

Maybe he has the money and maybe his family was able to assist. My point is don't jump to conclusions.....it's too easy to do that.
Not as an afterthought, but my heart goes out to you (Kimberly) and your family for your loss.

Posted by: Peace | Apr 18, 2006 9:21:17 AM


Thank you. I appreciate your thoughts.

What you say is true - his family very well might have assisted him in posting bail.

As for jumping to conclusions, I have done my best not to. I have, though, known Mr. Maisenbacher my entire life, and also know quite a bit of he and his family through my mother's stories and experiences over the years. So I have a bit more insight than others might into this situation.

I would like to say that my heart truly goes out to his children. None of us asked for this. I will leave my comment at that.

Posted by: Kimberly Cicala | Apr 18, 2006 9:54:31 AM

Just a few points:
While under the law, a person is innocent until proven guilty, the FACT is: in this case, there is matching DNA evidence which as we all know is accurate and leaves little room for doubt as to the guilt of the defendant. Under those circumstances, in my humble opinion, the bail which was set was inappropriately low, especially in light of the defendant's financial status. As we have all seen in many high profile cases, having money and therefore an ability to retain exceptional legal counsel unfortunately gives defendants an edge that most do not have in our criminal justice system.
Finally, based upon previous reports, the defendant was briefly confined to a psychiatric facility after the tragedy. If his mental state caused his actions in the first place, then who is to say this could not happen again with another neighbor or acquaintance. As such, the low bail and the removal of the house arrest seems inappropriate

Posted by: 4justice | Apr 18, 2006 10:12:14 AM

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