Fan, Candles Left Behind To Mask Murder, Roommate of Suspect Says

BSO detectives said they found the body of Juliana Mensch early on Thursday

By Jeff Burnside
|  Saturday, Mar 31, 2012  |  Updated 10:50 AM EDT
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Broward Sheriff's Office detectives said they found the decomposing body of a 19-year-old New Jersey woman who was murdered in a Fort Lauderdale apartment.

Broward Sheriff's Office detectives said they found the decomposing body of a 19-year-old New Jersey woman who was murdered in a Fort Lauderdale apartment.

Broward Sheriff’s Office detectives said they found the decomposing body of a 19-year-old New Jersey woman who was murdered in a Fort Lauderdale apartment.

How Juliana Mensch was murdered is still being investigated, as is the motive of suspect James Ayers, 32, who has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and is being held at the Broward County Main Jail, Fort Lauderdale Police said Friday.

BSO detectives found Mensch’s body in Ayers’ home at 1102 NW 7th Terrace in the early-morning hours Thursday, police said.

His roommate David Burden, a hard-working house painter, can hardly believe what happened in the small rented bedroom in the corner last Friday night.

“She was murdered right in that room,” he said.

A fan and candles were left behind to cover the odor.

"We started smelling something about Monday morning. And we couldn't figure out what it was,” Burden said. “And checking everything, my clothes, I'm thinking, 'something stinks.' I did not know."

Police said they located Ayers in Plantation and arrested him without incident.

Burden said Ayers was quiet and “worked somewhere out in 441,” but couldn’t describe him much more than that. “I didn’t know him very long.”

Burden and another neighbor said Ayers had a girlfriend who also lived in their tiny room. They said she knew the victim, and that the three were seen only a day or so before Julie Mensch quietly died.

Ayers is being represented by a public defender in court, but no hearing date was available for his case Friday, according to Broward County court records.

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