Home Invasion Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty to Lesser Manslaughter Charges

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WESTAMPTON, NJ – Rhys. R. Lershe, 44, pleaded guilty to beating his elderly neighbors last summer, killing a 79-year-old man while robbing their home last summer.

According to Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw, under an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office, Lershe pled guilty on Wednesday to Aggravated Manslaughter and two counts of Robbery in exchange for a 30-year term in New Jersey state prison.

Lershe will remain in the Burlington County Jail in Mount Holly until sentencing, which was scheduled for September 15.

The investigation began August 4, 2021 after an elderly couple living next door to Lershe called police at approximately 12:30 a.m. and reported the attack.

“The investigation revealed that Lershe entered their residence through a second-story bedroom window and demanded the keys to their 2014 black Kia Optima. He then assaulted the couple before leaving in their car. The victims were transported to Cooper University Hospital in Camden and admitted for treatment,” police reported at the time of the killing. “Lershe was arrested the following day by the Millville Police Department at a residence in Cumberland County. He was still in possession of the stolen vehicle when apprehended.”

The initial charges against Lershe were upgraded after one of the victims – 79-year-old Edward Bush – died approximately six weeks after being attacked. An autopsy performed by Burlington County Medical Examiner Dr. Ian Hood determined Bush died as a result of blunt force injuries to his head and chest.