NJ rabbi found dead in prison decades after hiring hit men to kill his wife

A New Jersey rabbi behind bars for hiring hitmen to kill his wife — so he could pursue an affair with a Philadelphia radio personality — was discovered dead in the prison where he’d been serving a life sentence for murder.

Fred Neulander, a former senior rabbi at a synagogue in Cherry Hill, was found unresponsive earlier this week inside an infirmary unit at the New Jersey State Prison, according to a statement released Friday afternoon by the state Department of Corrections.

After staff administered CPR, 82-year-old Neulander was taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on Wednesday at 6:13 p.m., the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

His cause of death has not been released.

Neulander had been in prison since 2002, when he was handed a life sentence in connection with the slaying of his wife, Carol Neulander, who was also the mother of his three children. She was found bludgeoned to death inside the home they shared in Cherry Hill back in 1994.

Police said Carol was on the phone with her daughter when the attackers entered the residence. While the crime scene was staged to look like a robbery, investigators noted nearly on that nothing in the home appeared to be disturbed or missing, a detail they found suspicious at the time.

Neulander, once a prominent member of his community, was the founding rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom, a Reform Jewish synagogue in Cherry Hill. It closed in 2022 after merging with another synagogue in the area.

In 1992, Neulander met Elaine Soncini, an on-air at radio host for WPEN-FM, when he officiated the 1992 funeral of her husband, Ken Garland.

During Neulander’s high-profile murder trial, Len Jenoff, a former Collingswood resident, testified that both he and Paul Michael Daniels, were offered $30,000 to kill Carol. He said Neulander wanted his wife out of the picture because she’d been getting in the way of his affair with Socini, who also took the stand during the trial.

Both Jenoff and Daniels, who later confessed to taking the job so he could get money for drugs, were both released from prison in 2014.

Neulander had long denied his involvement in his wife’s murder, but he did confess to having an affair.

“My behavior was appalling in my marriage and I’m going to have to live with that for the rest of my life. It was arrogant and it was selfish, and that burden, I will just carry for the rest of my life,” Neulander told NBC10 in 2012. “I knew better. I should have behaved better. It’s just that simple.”