Wiretap unraveled Middlesex County inmate’s copycat murder plot: court documents

Weeks before a Camden County man was scheduled to go on trial in the 2019 killing of a co-worker at her Plainsboro apartment, he allegedly plotted with another inmate to kill a random woman with a screwdriver or scissors.

But the plot to stage a copycat murder aimed at casting doubt over the case was unraveled by a wiretap, according to court documents.

Kenneth Saal, 33, of Lindenwold, was charged last week with conspiracy to commit murder, a first-degree crime, conspiracy to tamper with a witness and conspiracy to hinder his own prosecution, both second-degree crimes.

Saal pleaded guilty Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez Jr. to the fatal stabbing of his co-worker as well as the charges related to conspiring to commit murder.

According to court documents, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office received a letter from the Middlesex County Adult Corrections Center on Oct. 13 alleging an inmate was conspiring to commit a copycat murder to create doubt in his case.

Saal allegedly solicited an inmate who he believed was being released from custody soon to commit a murder. He allegedly offered to pay the inmate $15,000.

Kenneth Saal allegedly plotted with another inmate to kill a random woman with a screwdriver or scissors.
Kenneth Saal allegedly plotted with another inmate to kill a random woman with a screwdriver or scissors.

Saal provided several options for the murder, including killing a random woman or other individuals involved in his homicide investigation, court documents say.

On Oct. 24, a Superior Court judge approved a wiretap of Saal at the correction center, during which he is heard speaking about the 2019 killing of Carolyn Byington, court documents say.

Byington, a Ridge High School graduate, and Saal formerly worked together in Princeton. Byington was found dead in her apartment after going home for lunch in June 2019.

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Plainsboro police responded to Byington's home after other co-workers requested a wellness check after she failed to return to work. Police arrived at her apartment around 5:57 p.m. to find Byington, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. She died from numerous stabbings and blunt-force trauma, authorities said.

Saal was later indicted on murder, a first-degree crime, burglary, a second-degree crime, as well as endangering an injured victim, hindering one’s own apprehension, burglary and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, all third-degree crimes. The indictment also includes charges of stalking and tampering with evidence, both fourth-degree crimes.

Saal was scheduled for trial next month on those charges.

Court papers say that after Saal reviewed the crime scene and autopsy photos, he explained how to stage a copycat murder and crime scene to make it resemble the work of Byington's killer. He stated the weapon should be a screwdriver or scissors, and the victim's neck would have to be severely damaged, court papers say.

He also indicated the victim should be a woman in her late 20s or early 30s, white and similar to the victim in his case, according to court documents. He also provided instructions on ways to avoid detection such as turning off a cellphone and bringing bleach to the crime scene, court papers say.

Saal also allegedly offered the option of killing either of two initial persons of interest in the case or staging the scene to look like a suicide. He also created a suicide confession note to be left at the scene by the killer, court papers say.

An Oct. 25 court-ordered search warrant executed at his prison cell recovered the suicide note as well as other letters written by Saal as part of his alleged conspiracy to kill another person, according to court documents.

His alleged scheme also included the option of killing one of the lead detectives in his homicide case to obstruct his scheduled trial.

Email: srussell@gannettnj.com

Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: Wiretap foiled NJ inmate’s copycat murder plot: court docs