New details have emerged about the case of a New Jersey corrections officer who has been charged with shooting his girlfriend and her best friend to death last week, including that the man was said to be enraged that the victims had gone on a girls’ trip to Cancun for Valentine’s Day without him, and that his partner had been ignoring his calls.
John Menendez, 23, of West New York, faces two counts of murder stemming from the deaths of his girlfriend, Anna Shpilberg, and her best friend, Luiza Shinkarevskaya. The women, who were both 40, had each been shot in the head and were found on February 16 in different areas of Newark.
The shootings occurred shortly after Menendez had picked up the women at Newark Liberty International airport when they returned home from their trip, according to court documents.
New Jersey corrections officer John Menendez, 23 (left), faces two counts of murder stemming from shooting deaths of his girlfriend, Anna Shpilberg (brunette), and her friend Luiza Shinkarevskaya, (blonde) both 40
Friends and relatives said Menendez was furious because Shpilberg had gone on a trip with four female friends to Cancun, Mexico, for Valentine’s Day (pictured on vacation with Shinkarevskaya)
Shinkarevskaya’s cousin, Mishel Chan-Min, told NJ Advance Media that Menendez, whom she characterized as extremely controlling and possessive, was ‘furious and he was upset’ over the getaway, which Shpilberg had planned with her five female friends after living for a year under COVID restrictions.
Menendez was said to have told Shinkarevskaya’s boyfriend that ‘he can’t believe they went on vacation and that Anna was going to hear it from him when she got off the plane.’
Shinkarevskaya’s boyfriend reportedly tried to diffuse the tension and offered to pick up his girlfriend and Shpilberg from the airport, but Menendez insisted that he was ‘fine.’
Menendez (center) was described as possessive and controlling, seldom letting Shpilberg (left) out of his sight. Shinkarevskaya is pictured on the right
Shpilberg (left) and Shinkarevskaya (right) were shot in the head minutes apart in Newark, New Jersey, on February 16
Menendez picked them up in his girlfriend’s car at the airport and drove them to a parking lot where Shinkarevskaya had left her vehicle. The Hudson County corrections officer then allegedly shot the woman in the head and left her bleeding on the sidewalk in the 100 block of Haynes Avenue.
He then drove to Edison Place and Bruen Street near Newark Penn Station, where Shpilberg was found dead from a gun shot wound to the head in the passenger seat of her car just before 10pm.
Menendez, who had blood on him, walked up to a Newark police officer who was sitting in his patrol car near the scene and confessed to the shootings, telling him: ‘I killed both of them. Just arrest me, bro.’
After he was right his Miranda rights, Menendez was said to have said: ‘This is crazy. I can’t believe I did this.’
Around this time, Shinkarevskaya’s body was found on a sidewalk not far from the airport. The gun Menendez allegedly used to shoot both women was found near her body, authorities said.
During his interview with police, Menendez said ‘Anna had been ignoring his calls. He said he lost it and killed them,’ according to a probable cause affidavit.
Shpilberg and Shinkarevskaya came to the United States as children from their native Ukraine and previously lived in Brooklyn, New York
Shpilberg lived in Randolph, New Jersey, and worked as a dental hygienist in Staten Island. Shinkarevskaya lived in Riverdale, New Jersey, and worked as an ultrasound technician
Friends have said the two women came to the United States as children from their native Ukraine and previously lived in Brooklyn, New York.
Shpilberg lived in Randolph, New Jersey, with her teenage son, Daniel, and worked as a dental hygienist in Staten Island.
Shinkarevskaya lived in Riverdale, New Jersey, with her partner of 11 years, Joe Hernandez, and worked as an ultrasound technician in Manhattan. She was her parents’ online child.
People who knew Shpilberg and Menendez said he would incessantly call her whenever they were apart.
Fabian Goni, Shpilberg’s ex-fiance, said that Menendez constantly demanded that she tell him where she was and even expected Shpilberg to send him video as proof of her whereabouts.
Chan-Min, Shinkarevskaya’s cousin, said he hardly ever left Shpilberg’s side.
‘He was always there. Any step that she took, he was there. So I was just surprised that she went without him.’
Photos that Shpilberg and Shinkarevskaya sent their loved ones from their final trip reportedly showed the women posing up in matching red bikinis on the beach in honor of Valentine’s Day and playfully modeling sombreros over drinks.
She recalled that she first met Menendez with Shpilberg at a beach more than a year ago and thought he ‘seemed off.’
Shpilberg lived with her son in New Jersey and worked as a dental hygenist in Staten Island
Shpilberg is survived by her 15-year-old son, Daniel (pictured together)
She explained that beyond the 13-year different between the couple, there was something about Menendez that struck her as weird.
Chan-Min said she met first Menendez during an outing with her cousin and Shpilberg at the beach more than a year ago and that he ‘seemed off,’
‘His energy was off, like he was there but not really there at all,’ she recounted.
Menendez remained in the Essex County Jail as of Tuesday, pending a detention hearing that is scheduled for March 2.
Friends of the two victims have launched separate GoFundMe campaigns to help their families financially, including one raising money towards a college fund for Shpliberg’s 15-year-old son.
‘Words cannot accurately describe Daniel’s grief right now,’ the campaign’s description reads. ‘His future is uncertain but his main wish is to continue his life in Randolph, the only home he knows, surrounded by his friends, classmates, and neighbors.’