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Comcast Subcontractor Charged with Murder

A 24-year-old subcontractor doing installations for Comcast Corp. has been charged with murder in the death of a Verona, N.J., woman.

The worker, Jude Phillips, allegedly entered the home of the victim, Joan Joaquin, to install a cable modem Nov. 22. Later, firefighters were called to the blazing home and found the dead woman, who had been struck on the head and had her neck cut with scissors.

Phillips was targeted for questioning almost immediately, as he did not return to his work site later that day.

Comcast spokesman Jeff Alexander said the company is taking the matter seriously and cooperating fully with authorities in the investigation.

Comcast identified the man as an employee of 180 Connect Inc., an independent contractor working with all major MSOs in 85 job sites currently.

Northern division vice president Bob DiBetta said Phillips was hired only after passing state, federal and county background checks, all of which were clean. He also passed a drug screen and a check of his driving record.

"Obviously, this is a tragedy. By all accounts, he was a good employee," DiBetta said of Phillips, who worked for the firm for two years. "He could have been an employee candidate for anyone."

Phillips was charged with murder in Superior Court in Newark, N.J., Nov. 27.

Alexander could not say whether the incident would impact the company's business relationship with the contractor.