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Ex-wife of New Jersey man who racially abused black neighbor insists he’s not racist

The former wife of the New Jersey man whose vile rant against a black neighbor went viral this week insists her ex, Cagney Mathews, is no racist.

‘I know it seems like that, but he’s not,’ Shannon Schwartzhoff told DailyMail.com exclusively on Thursday. ‘A lot of his best friends are black.’

Schwartzhoff claimed the reason for Mathews’s outburst was that he had had too much to drink.

‘He was drunk,’ she added. ‘And he has been having a lot of problems in the neighborhood with the Home Owners’ Association. There’s been some money gone missing and he is trying to stop that.’

Mathews, 45, a construction foreman, was arrested on Friday last week and then rearrested on Monday after a video emerged online of him confronting a black neighbor on the Essex Place development in Mount Laurel, New Jersey.

He was seen spitting on the man, telling him he was from Africa, calling him a ‘monkey’ and using the N word. 

Edward Cagney Mathews, 45, was arrested on Monday outside of his Mount Laurel home. He has has been charged with harassment and assault

Shannon Schwartzhoff (pictured left on Thursday) insisted her ex-husband, Edward Cagney Mathews (right) is not racist in an interview with DailyMail.com

Footage posted online showed Mathews, 45, squaring up to a black neighbor - spitting on him, calling him the n-word and a 'monkey', and saying he was 'from Africa', during a confrontation outside his Mount Laurel, New Jersey home last week

Footage posted online showed Mathews, 45, squaring up to a black neighbor – spitting on him, calling him the n-word and a ‘monkey’, and saying he was ‘from Africa’, during a confrontation outside his Mount Laurel, New Jersey home last week 

The man – who DailyMail.com has learned is in the military – had come to the aid of Leron Brown, the 66-year-old president of the Essex Place Homeowners’ Association, who Mathews was harassing. Brown is also black.

Mathews was arrested after Brown’s wife Denise – who is white – called the police. 

On the video it is clear the responding officer knows Mathews. He says to him: ‘Cagney, cut it out man. Let me talk to them. Go home.’

Mathews was charged with bias intimidation and harassment and was allowed to return home. 

He was arrested again on Monday after a crowd had gathered outside his home, throwing objects at his two-bedroom townhouse, breaking two windows, and strewing garbage.

When cops led Mathews from the house that he and Schwartzhoff bought for $177,000 in 2017, people in the crowd sprayed them with liquid from water bottles.

Police also say the protesters used pepper spray and they are now reviewing bodycam footage and video posted on social media to see if anybody else should be charged.

‘I don’t want to defend him right now because I am angry at him,’ his ex said. ‘But I am going to defend him a little bit because he’s not as bad as everyone thinks he is.

‘This was just a bad, bad moment in 2021.’

Schwartzhoff, 49, who still co-owns a two-bedroom townhouse with her ex, admitted she was angry at Mathews over the incident but claimed he's not 'as bad as everyone thinks he is'

Schwartzhoff, 49, who still co-owns a two-bedroom townhouse with her ex, admitted she was angry at Mathews over the incident but claimed he’s not ‘as bad as everyone thinks he is’

Mathews was arrested and charged with bias intimidation and harassment but was allowed to return home. Pictured above is a police squad car parked outside Mathews's home

Mathews was arrested and charged with bias intimidation and harassment but was allowed to return home. Pictured above is a police squad car parked outside Mathews’s home 

Neighbors say Mathews has been carrying out a campaign to get himself elected on to the Essex Place Homeowners’ Association by harassing black members of the board

Neighbors say Mathews has been carrying out a campaign to get himself elected on to the Essex Place Homeowners’ Association by harassing black members of the board

Schwartzhoff, a teacher’s aide at a local elementary school, said she does not even know if she has a job anymore. When asked if it was true that she has been fired, she responded: ‘Not yet.’

‘I haven’t heard from the district yet. I shouldn’t be fired because I have done nothing wrong. But a lot of parents have called and asked me to resign. 

‘It’s not my fault, I wasn’t even there that night.’

Schwartzhoff, 49, was pictured coming out of Mathews’s two-bedroom townhouse clutching papers after his arrest. She said she was there because she still co-owns the house with him.

‘I have to make sure it’s safe and secure, so when I go to sell it I still have property,’ she said. ‘If he’s incarcerated, I’m the one who has to take over everything.’

While his ex stood up for Mathews, other people say living near him is a nightmare. 

Jazmyn Suszynski, 26, told DailyMail.com of an 18-month reign of terror she claims he waged against her after she moved into an apartment above his former home.

She claims he kicked in her door on the day she moved in, stenciled obscene messages on her car, and blamed her for trashing his porch when he did it himself, she claimed in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com. 

Edward Cagney Mathews, 45 (left), was arrested on Monday evening

Edward Cagney Mathews, 45 (left), was arrested on Monday evening

Mathews had reportedly been a source of concern in the community for several years

Mathews had reportedly been a source of concern in the community for several years

Suszynski was eventually forced out of the apartment on Mount Laurel’s Brittany Commons development.

Now Suszynski wants authorities to reopen her old cases, which she claims were mishandled, to ensure Mathews is finally punished to the full extent of the law.

And a local grass-roots campaign has begun where anyone else who has had a serious run-in with Mathews are being asked to detail their cases so he can be held to account.

‘I am more mad at the authorities in this town than I am at Cagney,’ Suszynski, 26, told DailyMail.com.

‘What happened the other night would never have happened if they had nipped this in the bud.’

Police in Mount Laurel admit that they have had many other complaints against Mathews but none have ended in convictions.

‘There have been multiple complaints against him,’ police department spokesman, Kyle Gardner told DailyMail.com.

‘But in New Jersey the law is that the victims have to sign the complaint against a suspect for it to go forward. There has been a combination of not having enough evidence or probable cause and sometimes people didn’t want to sign the complaint.’

Neighbors say this is the latest in a long line of confrontations. 

Patricia Lanier told DailyMail.com that Mathews had slashed the tires on her car. 

Others talked of feces being smeared on their vehicles and graffiti using the N-word.

They say his harassment has all been part of a bizarre attempt to get himself elected on to the Essex Place Homeowners’ Association in place of one of the black members.

Trouble started for Jazmyn Suszynski in July 2016, on the very day she and her then six-year-old son moved into a third-floor apartment at Brittany Commons. 

At the time Mathews was living on the second floor. He moved to Essex Place the following year.

Jazmyn Suszynski

Suszynski, 26, told DailyMail.com of an 18-month reign of terror he waged against her after she moved into an apartment above his former home (pictured)

Jazmyn Suszynski (pictured) 26, told DailyMail.com of an 18-month reign of terror he waged against her after she moved into an apartment above his former home (right) in 2016

Suszynski shared footage of racist messages she claims Mathews once stenciled all over her car

Suszynski shared footage of racist messages she claims Mathews once stenciled all over her car

She said she one day awoke to find her car was vandalized with messages reading: 'I am a n***** who sucks c***s'

She said she one day awoke to find her car was vandalized with messages reading: ‘I am a n***** who sucks c***s’ 

Neighbors Willie and Patricia Lanier (pictured with their Jack Russell terrier, Jack) say Mathews has a history of slashing the tires of black families on his racially mixed housing development

Neighbors Willie and Patricia Lanier (pictured with their Jack Russell terrier, Jack) say Mathews has a history of slashing the tires of black families on his racially mixed housing development

Initially he offered to help her move in, but then he got more and more angry, Suszynski said.

‘He started getting irritated about the furniture and noise. And eventually he came and kicked the door in and started yelling at us, telling us we had go get the f… out of there.

‘I was just sitting on my couch and suddenly I see this foot come flying in. I was in shock.

‘He was basically implying we were not meant to be there. I believe it was the idea of having a minority family living above him.’

‘It was very clear that he was aggravated about the idea of us being there at all.’

Police were called, said Suszynski, a real estate agent, but she decided not to press charges because she didn’t want to get off to such a bad start in her new home.

But things got worse. He complained about Suszynski’s young son making too much noise, then it was because of running water in her apartment, then her brother running up the three flights of stairs to visit her.

‘I guess he made too much noise running up those stairs. Cagney comes outside and starts yelling racial slurs at us.

‘The cops get called and I tell them that this has been going on for too long, he’s constantly knocking on my door complaining about something.

They tell me I can file a complaint if I like, but that’s basically all. I decided I should,’ she said. ‘I wasn’t taking any more sorrys.’

But the case never came to fruition. It went through four judges, and Suszynski claims police lost evidence that she gave them.

She has posted on her Facebook page a video of her talking to Mathews on her doorstep, where he claims he is a drug dealer who is protected by the local police.

‘I sell drugs, that’s what I do,’ Mathews says. ‘It’s what I’ve always done around here.’

Then he says: ‘You’re not going to get any help from the cops because they are my people, you understand? That’s why you are not getting anything.

‘I know you have said that. The cops came down and told me. They said: ‘What do you want us to do?’

Mathew's ex-wife was seen retrieving documents and valuables from the house on Tuesday

Mathew’s ex-wife was seen retrieving documents and valuables from the house on Tuesday

Trash is piled up at the entrance to the boarded up home of Edward Mathews on Tuesday afternoon

Trash is piled up at the entrance to the boarded up home of Edward Mathews on Tuesday afternoon

To prevent their use as potential weapons, a Mount Laurel police officer removes a crow bar, sledge hammer and baseball bat from the front porch of Edward Mathews' home

To prevent their use as potential weapons, a Mount Laurel police officer removes a crow bar, sledge hammer and baseball bat from the front porch of Edward Mathews’ home

Suszynski said the odd thing is that despite his outlandish behavior, Mathews would frequently apologize. Neighbors on the development where he now lives say the same.

The worst was yet to come for the single mother. One morning she got up to find obscene messages – which included the N word – stenciled on three sides of her car.

‘He went to the trouble of making the stencil and then put it on my car. Who has the time for that?’ Suszynski asked.

Mathews’s campaign of terror took an almost comic turn when he allegedly called child protective services — which Suszynski referred to by its previous initials DYFS. She was visited by an agent who was black.

‘So he started complaining again that I had friends over when it was the DYFS worker who he had called on me. So he was complaining about the very person who he had called.

‘Then he trashed his own porch and claimed that I had done it. I couldn’t even get on his porch.’

Eventually Suszynski decided she had to move out to get away from her tormentor. 

But it only took Mathews one day to find her new address and start all over again.

‘My son went to the school where his then-wife worked,’ she said. ‘I can only think of one way he would have magically found my address.’

Mathews is due to appear virtually in Burlington County Superior Court on Friday where a judge will decide whether he should be held in the county jail any longer before his case goes to trial.

BLM protesters wrote on the street outside of Mathews's home. Neighbors say Mathews has been carrying out a campaign to get himself elected on to the Essex Place Homeowners’ Association by harassing black members of the board

BLM protesters wrote on the street outside of Mathews’s home. Neighbors say Mathews has been carrying out a campaign to get himself elected on to the Essex Place Homeowners’ Association by harassing black members of the board

Police escort Edward Cagney Mathews through a crowd of people who had gathered outside his Mount Laurel, N.J., home on Monday, July 5, 2021

Police escort Edward Cagney Mathews through a crowd of people who had gathered outside his Mount Laurel, N.J., home on Monday, July 5, 2021

Protesters gather for an hours-long demonstration outside the Mount Laurel home of bias-crimes suspect Edward Cagney Mathews

Protesters gather for an hours-long demonstration outside the Mount Laurel home of bias-crimes suspect Edward Cagney Mathews

Many people who have had run-ins with Mathews — including Suszynski — believe he has mental problems and needs help.

When asked to describe Mathews, neighbor Barbara Guillory told DailyMail.com: ‘Sort of like the village idiot, I don’t know any other way to put it.

‘We all know the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor with him. That’s just Cagney.’

Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina condemned Mathews’s actions in confronting his neighbors. 

‘It is difficult to overstate how vile and despicable the conduct by this defendant toward his neighbors was on Friday night.

‘No-one should ever have to deal with such hatred thrown in their face anywhere, but especially on their own doorstep,’ he added.

He vowed that this time his department would see Mathews’s case through ‘so that justice is done.’

‘We are all in this together, Coffina said. ‘We urge anyone with information or evidence of prior incidents involving this defendant to come forward and present it to Mount Laurel Police Department or our office.’


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