The trail of evidence in a fatal Toms River hit-and-run, two days before Thanksgiving, leads investigators to Neptune Township, then back to a Berkeley Township driver.

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Maxine Pickard, 73, was apprehended and released on $50,000 bail in connection with the death of John Ekarius, 34, of Dover Woods, according to information from Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato's office.

Authorities allege that Pickard's vehicle was apparently the first of several that impacted Ekarius on Route 9 late on November 22, but the only one that left the spot.

Pickard, with her lawyer, turned herself in today, to face a second-degree charge of knowingly leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident resulting in death. Her bail was meted out with an option for release on payment of 10 percent.

Toms River police first responded to the report of a pedestrian accident at the cross point of Routes 9 and 70 at 11:10 PM. Ekarius was found unresponsive, and was pronounced dead 20 minutes later.

Investigators sought the help of Al Picker, of All Time Automotive in Point Pleasant, who determined that the first car to hit Ekarius was a late-model, blue Nissan Altima. Detectives surmised that the car sustained extensive front-end damage. Subsquent drivers stayed to render aid.

While driving to a Thanksgiving dinner at about 12 noon on November 24, Picker spotted a blue Nissan Altima, with damage consistent to the incident, being towed north on the Garden Stare Parkway, authorities said.

He contacted county Detective Brad Frank, who enlisted New Jersey State Police investigators and tracked it to an address in Neptune Township.

Examination of the car by the Ocean County Sheriff's CSI unit on December 1 led to the charge. Ms. Pickard is represented by attorney Brian Heyesey.

Charges are accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and until, found guilty in a court of law.

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