Forty-six years ago, Joanne Chesimard, then a member of the Black Liberation Army, was involved in a New Jersey Turnpike shooting that killed State Trooper Werner Foerster during a traffic stop.

After being convicted as an accomplice in the slaying, Chesimard escaped from the state's woman's prison in 1979 and eventually surfaced in Cuba, where she was granted political asylum under the name Assata Shakur.

Top Garden State law enforcement officials are once again demanding that Cuba turn over Chesimard.

At the State Police headquarters in Ewing on Thursday, State Police Col. Pat Callahan said as we mark National Police Week, Trooper Foerster is not forgotten.

With regard to Chesimard, he said the State Police stays in regular contact with not only the FBI but the U.S. State Department.

“We are trying to move beyond words to action, to get her back here to serve her sentence for the crimes she was convicted of," he said.

Joanne Chesimard wanted poster. Courtesy New Jersey State Police
Joanne Chesimard wanted poster. Courtesy New Jersey State Police

Greg Ehrie, special agent in charge of the FBI in New Jersey, said efforts are being made to convince Cuba to hand over the convicted killer.

“It is very important that we continue this dialogue and try to have a resolution to the Chesimard murder conviction," Ehrie said.

“We have over the years worked with the government of Cuba, through our State Department and through ... the various administrations to see if we can bring a conclusion to this.”

He said a $2 million dollar reward is still being offered for information that leads to her capture.

Ehrie noted Chesimard was the first woman named on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.

Callahan said 40 years after the murder, the State Police continues to work with the FBI on the case. Her whereabouts are constantly being monitored.

Troopers assigned to the joint terrorism task force “have close tabs on her, with regard to her movements, certainly making sure that if her travel plans would bring her out of Cuba, that we would be made aware of that.”

Ehrie said the bottom-line message to Chesimard is simple: “We will work together — the federal, state and local government here in New Jersey — we will find you and bring you to justice.”

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