N.J. Grandma Is Fatally Shot on Porch on Her Birthday While Releasing Balloons for Late Twin Sister

Debra Derrick, 63, was killed more than a year ago on March 11, 2021

Debra Derrick
Debra Derrick. Photo: Debra Derrick Facebook

Two brothers have been charged with murder in New Jersey, where authorities allege they fatally shot a grandmother who was celebrating her 63rd birthday.

Debra Derrick was killed more than a year ago on March 11, 2021, according to a statement from the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.

She was fatally shot at around 8 p.m. on the night of her birthday.

Derrick was killed while standing on her front porch in Newark, N.J., where she was releasing balloons in honor of her late twin sister.

The twin sister had died seven years earlier, the statement says.

Derrick worked as a certified nursing assistant at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.

Investigators identified the alleged shooters as Jonathan Ritchie, 21, and his brother Josiah Ritchie, 19.

Jonathan Ritchie, 21, and his brother Josiah Ritchie, 19, both Newark residents, face charges of murder, conspiracy to commit murder and weapons-related offenses in the March 11, 2021 slaying of 63-year-old Debra Derrick, according to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office
Jonathan Ritchie, Josiah Ritchie. Essex County Prosecutor's Office (2)

In addition to murder, the Newark men are charged with conspiracy to commit murder and weapons-related offenses.

The two had previously lived in Atlanta.

Derrick was not the intended target of the shooting, officials say.

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It was not immediately clear if the two defendants had attorneys who could comment on their behalf.

They remain in custody, but have not entered pleas to the charges.

Derrick's sister, Ramona Derrick, spoke to NJ Advance Media last year, and said her sister "always had an open heart."

Of the shooting, she told the site: "She was caught in the crossfire. She was making sure that everybody was safe. She was pushing the two granddaughters in the door."

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