The family of Ruth Esther Reyes de Severino is suing her apartment complex after she and her children were murdered by her estranged husband.
On February 5, 2020, Ruth Esther Reyes de Severino, and her children, Eurianny, 5, and Eury, 2 were fatally stabbed in their Penns Grove Gardens apartment. Before their deaths, Ruth had asked the apartment complex to change the locks on her apartment “door after she was granted a restraining order against her husband.” Unfortunately, the complex ignored her request and now Ruth’s family is suing. The body of Eugenio Severino, Ruth’s husband was found in a nearby park shortly after the deadly incident.
According to the lawsuit, Eugenio died by suicide in the aftermath of his family’s murder. The suit, which was filed in Salem County Superior Court, accuses the apartment complex of wrongful death, negligence, breach of contract, and negligent hiring. The defendants include “Penns Grove Gardens, its operator, Housing Management Resources, and Roger J. Gendron, identified in the suit as ‘managing member’ of Penns Grove Apartments and Penns Grove Gardens.”
What happened leading up to the fatal stabbing of Ruth and her children? It began in January 2020 when Ruth was “granted a restraining order against her husband, ousting him from their apartment.” It turns out, her husband had threatened to kill her many times. To protect herself and her children, she alerted the apartment complex to the restraining order and “asked for her locks to be changed because her husband still had a set of keys.” The suit states:
“Ruth Reyes de Severino asked, nay, begged, Defendant Landlord Penns Grove Apartments LLC…to change the locks on the door to her apartment such that her husband could not gain entry…Despite the Tenant’s fear for her own safety and security, as well as the safety and security of her two small children…Defendant Landlord denied Tenant’s request to change the locks.”
In the end, Ruth had made “at least five in-person requests for the locks of her apartment to be changed,” according to Samuel D. Jackson, the attorney representing the family. She also told the complex that Eugenio “posed a danger to her and her children.”
“Women and their children should not have to fear for their lives —or lose them — because their landlords and the parties they contract with fail to keep those women and children safe.”
In addition to the allegations, the lawsuit argues the complex “failed to follow a Penns Grove ordinance that was created in response to the shooting death of Tayshon Hayward at the same property in 2019.” According to the ordinance, “all apartment complexes in the municipality must install exterior security cameras and lighting to improve safety.” Jackson noted:
“The defendants here didn’t bother to follow a law that was passed to address their own bad behavior after someone else lost their life in similar circumstances at their property less than a year before…The predictable result was an even worse tragedy…We hope this lawsuit sends shockwaves through the New Jersey landlord community and makes landlords realize the health and safety of their tenants should trump all other considerations — especially profits.”