Plumsted Student To Remain In Ocean County Lockup

Matthew Vanderbeek (Photo courtesy Ocean County Prosecutor's Office)

OCEAN COUNTY – A superior court judge has ruled that a teen who made terroristic threats must be detained.

Ocean County Superior Court Judge Wendel E. Daniels this morning (June 28) ruled after 45 minutes of arguments that 19-year-old Matthew V. Vanderbeek, of Hyacinth Court in Cream Ridge, should remain detained in Ocean County Jail.

Vanderbeek, a student at the Brick Vocational Technical School, had been suspended from school for nine days and put on home instruction for the rest of the year after making threats in April.

Plumsted Police charged him May 9 with making terroristic threats. Police also investigated threats that he planned to “shoot up” the New Egypt High School graduation ceremony.

Further investigations, including a search warrant of his home, led the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to discover Vanderbeek was attempting to purchase a firearm. He was additionally charged on June 19 with third-degree terroristic threats with a threat to kill and second-degree attempting to possess a firearm for an unlawful purpose.

According to law enforcement reports, Vanderbeek said he tried to get a firearm from Pinelands Sporting Goods in Jackson, possibly a Glock 22. He also said he studies school shootings, and that those studies give him “a rush” that he has never felt before. In particular, he said he has studied the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shootings that left 12 dead. Vanderbeek had dyed his hair the same flame red seen in photos of Aurora shooter James Holmes, who used a Glock 22 to carry out his shootings.

Vanderbeek also told police he sees a therapist and is in medication, although the reasons for therapy and what medication he is on were not included in that report.

Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Al Della Fave explained the judge’s decision, saying that Daniels could have released Vanderbeek with conditions—reporting to pretrial services, appearing in court, keeping in contact with the court about any changes of address—or detain him.

“In this case, the presumption was for detention rather than for release. That only happens in two instances—murder and when a defendant is facing life imprisonment. Our terrorism charges carry with it a term of 30 years to life so the presumption was in the state’s favor,” Della Fave said. “The burden was on the defense to show by a preponderance of the evidence that he should be released.”

Della Fave said the judge found that Vanderbeek is a danger to the community based on his escalating violence, based on his threats in Brick schools first and now New Egypt.