• Lynda Cohen*

Ventnor woman gets 42 years in killings of mother, grandmother

Updated: Feb 24

The Ventnor woman who admitted to brutally beating her mother and grandmother to death was sentenced to 42 years in prison under a plea agreement Thursday. Heather Barbera, 43, admitted in October that a verbal altercation with her mother turned deadly inside the Vassar Square Apartment. The fight ended with 67-year-old Michelle Gordon and her 87-year-old mother both dead. Barbera then cleaned herself up and robbed the women, taking a ring off her dead mother's hand before fleeing to New York, Judge Bernard DeLury pointed out before imposing sentence. "The depravity is palpable," he said. But those who know Barbera say she was a broken woman who had not gotten the mental help she needed. Barbera's lifelong friend Erica Delong said this was not the woman she knew. "I even helped the prosecutors try to find her because I was scared for her mental health... that she would hurt herself," Delong said. "Because, I said, if she did something like this, then something had to be wrong with her." Both Barbera and Delong sobbed as she spoke. But Barbera's uncle Richard Rosen, who did not address the court, said he did not believe his niece's tears. He also said 42 years is not long enough. Barbera is not a danger to the community said her second husband, Jimmy Scott Thompson, who traveled from Mississippi to attend the sentencing. He did not address the court, but was seen crying throughout the hearing. His wife was struggling after her brother's death from a drug overdose about four months before the killings, he said. Thompson said he spoke with his mother-in-law while Barbera was staying there, and that she had planned to buy her daughter a plane ticket home. Barbera has said that she and her mother were arguing in July 2018, when it turned violent and Gordon struck her daughter in the head with a flashlight. That is when Barbera said she picked up her deceased father's police baton and struck her mother several times. She then struck her grandmother, Elaine Rosen, killing her.

Barbera was sentenced under the plea agreement. She got 30 years for murder, and a consecutive 12 years for manslaughter. She would have to serve all 30 years, and then 85 percent on the manslaughter charge under the No Early Release Act. That means Barbera would have to serve about 40 years and two months before she is eligible for parole. With 15 months served, she would likely not be eligible for parole until she is about 82 years old, five years younger than her grandmother was.

Ventnor woman admits killing mother, grandmother

A Ventnor woman admitted using the police baton of her deceased father in the brutal killing of her mother and grandmother inside the condominium the three women shared.

Heather Barbera, 43, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury on Tuesday. Read more...

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