KEYPORT, New Jersey (PIX11) – She was busted in Muskegon, Michigan—pleading guilty this week to conspiracy to murder her husband—but 21-year-old Julia Merfeld was a Jersey girl—one of 12 children–raised in the town of Keyport, a block from Raritan Bay.
“Keyport’s a small town,” said James Meehan, who grew up in town and received First Communion with Merfeld’s father, Joe Antonaccio. “To see something like that on the news, it’s just shocking.”
What makes Julia Merfeld’s case more shocking is the undercover police video that showed her casually plotting the murder, with a man she thought was a hitman. It turned out he was a detective, who recorded Merfeld in two different meetings, April 9th and 10th this year. At one point on the video, Merfeld is seen handing the undercover a $100 bill as down payment for a job that was supposed to cost $50,000. Merfeld reportedly hoped to cash in on a $400,000 life insurance policy.
Merfeld is seen laughing, as the undercover asks why she doesn’t want the murder to happen inside the house. “Because it would be messy,” Merfeld chuckles.
Merfeld’s own brother, Nick Antonaccio, spoke to PIX 11 outside the family home in Keyport Tuesday. He said of the video, “I think it’s upsetting that she can talk about it so lightly and laugh about it.”
Antonaccio told PIX that his sister’s husband, Jacob Merfeld, is in the Coast Guard and that his sister moved out of New Jersey a couple of years ago, because Merfeld was getting an assignment elsewhere. Antonaccio said he thought the marriage was good, and his sister said—on the video—that it would simply be easier to kill Merfeld than divorce him.
The couple has two children, a daughter who’s about 4 years old and a boy who’s 2. Since their mother’s April arrest, the children have been living with Jacob Merfeld’s parents in Wisconsin, according to Nick Antonaccio.
Linda Mele, who lives next door to the Antonaccio home, where Julia grew up, described them as “…a very nice family. A very hard-working father. The mother was always very cordial.”
Julia Merfeld cut a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty to murder conspiracy this week, as a way to escape a potential life sentence. The judge indicated he may sentence Merfeld to at least the six year minimum. Her sentencing date is July 30th, but Merfeld’s husband said he didn’t want her to get jail time. “I’m sure he loves her,” James Meehan observed in Keyport. “It’s hard! Maybe it will sink in, and he’ll change his mind.”