NJ Cold Case
Joan Carole Freeman
Joan Freeman was a hard working 22 year old woman working overtime on Saturday, August 31st, 1968 at her secretary job for the internationally known pharmaceutical firm “Hoffmann-LaRoche,” a huge campus located on the Nutley/Clifton New Jersey border. Joan was recording employees’ hours from time cards in a second-floor medical library in building 34, which is security-gated. At about 5:30pm, Joan was struck on her head from behind with a wooden mallet, which was found at the scene. She was also struck repeatedly in the face, and her throat was slashed, cut to the depth of the spine. Several hours after she was killed, a guard making a routine sweep of the building was the one to find her. Strangely, according to Clifton Police Chief Joseph Nee, Miss Freeman did not work in building 34 where the body was found.
Joan’s ultimate cause of death was a skull fracture from being hit with the wooden mallet. There are conflicting reports as to whether or not she was sexually assaulted, however, some sources have stated that she was found clothed, and that there was no evidence pointing to penetrative rape.
During the next few weeks afterward, detectives interviewed and performed background checks on more than 300 people, including all of the guards who were on duty that day. Dozens of people took polygraph tests but police declined to say if they had a suspect. Because of the restricted access to the campus, detectives were certain it was a co-worker who committed the crime. The wooden mallet yielded no fingerprints and the weapon used to slash her throat was never found.
Joan was a former Passaic Valley High School cheerleader who graduated in 1964, and had no known enemies, no habits or relationships that might have motivated her brutal demise. She was a B average student and, after graduating, she attended a New York secretarial school before joining the Hoffmann-LaRoche firm. Her older brother Raymond described his sister as “a very attractive, well-liked, friendly and outgoing girl.” He also added that he thinks Joan made friends easily and was too trusting. Joan’s mother, Mrs. Bertram Freeman, said her daughter did have a boyfriend but was not engaged.
Joan’s murder remains unsolved.
If you have any information about this crime, please call the Clifton Police Department at 973-470-5900.