While police had no witnesses to the hit-and-run accident that killed a 61-year-old pedestrian in late October 2012, detectives cracked the case three and a half months later.
Edward L. Orr, a 30-year-old Montauk resident, was arrested Thursday afternoon in connection with the death of John Judge, East Hampton Town Police Detectives confirmed early on Friday morning.
Orr will be arraigned in East Hampton Town Justice Court on Friday morning on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident, a felony due to the fatality. Asked if the charges would be elevated, Detective Lt. Chris Anderson said, "All I can say is that the matter is under review by us, in conjunction with the Suffolk County District Attorney's office."
In a statement, Orr "was arrested after evidence recovered at the scene was linked to a 2004 Jeep Cherokee owned by Orr and recovered by detectives in New Jersey."
The Jeep is blue, the color detectives asked the community to look out for following the accident, Anderson said.
Anderson would not comment further, as the investigation is continuing.
Judge, a familiar face in Amagansett where he'd lived for more than a decade, was found unconscious and bleeding on Main Street on Oct. 23. East Hampton Town Councilman Dominick Stanzione caught a glimpse of something laying next to the tire of a pick-up truck parked eastbound — it turned out to be Judge, who was rushed to Southampton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Judge had just eaten dinner at Astro Pizza, owned by Tony Lupo, his best friend of 42 years. He was crossing the street to go back to his apartment when he was struck.
Reached on Friday morning, just after receiving news of the arrest, Tony Lupo's wife, Allison Lupo, said the family was relieved. "We are so happy to have kept the faith that this person would eventually be found and brought to justice," she said, adding that they are thankful to the police department "that never gave up looking for this person but most of all not forgetting John Judge."
The Lupo family had sort of adopted Judge over the years; he was a fixture at their restaurant and their holiday tables, and joined them for days at the beach and family vacations. "JJ," as he was known, was remembered as kind and generous, despite not having much — the type of person who would leave a big tip for a waiter just because it was a slow night, the Lupos said.
Over the past few months, the Lupos pleaded for the driver to turn himself in.
Orr has been arrested in the past. In November 2011, he was charged with second degree strangulation, a felony, second degree menacing, a misdemeanor, and criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, also a misdemeanor. According to police reports at that time, the arrest came after a domestic incident. He was released on $1,000 bail. The disposition of that case was not immediately available.
Following the accident, detectives released information regarding the the vehicle involved, in the hopes someone would come forward; they believed it sustained front-end damage, most likely to the front passenger side, including its headlight. Evidence recovered at the scene also indicated that the vehicle had a dark colored metallic paint, possibly blue.
There was $10,000 in reward money posted for information leading to the driver's arrest. , and Amagansett resident Larry Siedlick, who did not know Judge, in hopes of bringing the driver to justice.
In an interview in December — on what was supposed to be Judge's 62nd birthday — his sister Peggy DiLena described the feeling of not knowing who was responsible for her brother's death as a "ripping apart of your heart."
Her family — who live throughout the East Coast — resigned themselves to the idea that the driver would never be found, she said at the time.
"Regardless of how it happened, you can't bring him back. I wouldn't wish that kind of death on anyone," she told Patch. "May God forgive the person who did that — they're going to have to answer to a higher authority eventually."