Hamilton Township Resident, Jeffery Pageau passed away due to severe brain damage he suffered in an assault at a St. Patricks Day Parade Party. Photo from Gofundme.com
While township residents celebrated the yearly St. Patrick’s Day Parade on March 26th in the Hamilton Square section of the Township, Jeffery Pageau, was senselessly attacked in a confrontation with fellow partygoer Howard Buckalew.
According to court documents, the two men were at a St. Patrick’s Day party when Buckalew confronted Jeffery Pageau and the two began to argue.
The argument became physical and Buckalew grabbed Pageau by the shoulders and shoved him against kitchen cabinets several times, causing Pageau to hit the back of his head repeatedly against the cabinet.
Buckalew continued to push Pageu backward and off the porch, as the pair struggled they missed the steps and Pageau fell backward off the porch hitting the pavement – with Buckalew landing on top of him.
Witnesses told police that Buckalew landed on top of Pageau and repeatedly struck the victim’s head against the pavement, according to the affidavit.
Pageau died March 31 at Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton, exactly one week after the vicious assault in Hamilton.
An autopsy conducted March 31 found Pageau’s death was a homicide relating to the injuries he suffered during the assault, according to court documents.
Buckalew surrendered to Hamilton Police on March 26 and gave a video-recorded statement admitting to being in an altercation with Pageau on March 24, according to the affidavit.
Charging documents say Buckalew “under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, did recklessly cause serious bodily injury resulting in the death of Jeffrey Pageau specifically by forcibly slamming the victim’s head into kitchen cabinets and the concrete patio, which resulted in the victim sustaining several fractures to his skull resulting in his death.”
Pageau suffered multiple skull fractures and a brain bleed from the fatal assault, according to court documents.
Buckalew was identified as the perpetrator by several witnesses who told cops he fled in his vehicle before they arrived, according to a probable cause affidavit. Hamilton Police on March 25 filed a warrant complaint charging Buckalew with aggravated assault, and Officer Justin W. Mura arrested him the following day.
Authorities have charged Howard Buckalew, 52, with aggravated manslaughter in Pageau’s death.
Jeffery Pageau was a retired insulator with Local 89, who loved bird watching, fishing, gardening, golfing, hosting family and friends at backyard gatherings and volunteering Freedom Train Animal Rescue Transports.
His wife Joan and daughter Carly were by his side when he died.
Pageau – who was known as Jeffy or Page – also leaves behind his three dogs, “his furbabies” – Cinnamon, Sugar, and Bella, according to his obituary and a GoFundMe page set up to aid his shocked and heartbroken family.
Jeff was, and always will be remembered, as an amazing man, father, uncle, and friend,” the GoFundMe page says of the Ewing native who later moved to Hamilton.
“He was loved, appreciated and respected by everyone he came in contact with,” states the charitable giving website page.
“It’s a terrible loss,” Fred Dumont, business manager of the Hamilton-based Insulators and Allied Workers Local 89, said Thursday of Pageau. “He was an asset to our community, our local union, a great guy.”
Dumont and other union members appeared at the Mercer County Criminal Courthouse Thursday to observe Buckalew’s scheduled detention hearing, which was originally supposed to take place 9 a.m. Thursday, April 5th but was postponed.
During the rescheduled hearing, on Monday, April 9th, Buckalew represented by his attorney argued for release pending trial.
“There was a lot of confusion that evening and a lot of alcohol,” Kendall Murphy, Buckalew’s attorney said in court.
His attorney also stated that this was an act of self-defense.
Because alcohol was a catalyst in the fight, Mercer County Judge Robert Susswein decided detention was the safest for the community.
“While it wasn’t intentional, it was a reckless crime,” Susswein added. “There is no doubt this is a homicide case because the ultimate result was death.”
Residents who live in Pageau’s Hamilton Square neighborhood have expressed shock and outrage on what they described as an “incredibly senseless” homicide.