- Associated Press - Thursday, August 14, 2014

A New Jersey ex-con was charged with strangling his cousin and her 10-year-old foster daughter after the woman found him taking pornographic pictures of the girl, authorities said Thursday.

Fifty-eight-year-old Brian Farmer once served 13 years in prison for holding a different woman and her daughter hostage in their home and sexually assaulting the teen.

He made a brief initial appearance in state Superior Court in Freehold on Thursday afternoon during which he didn’t speak as the charges against him were read. He was being held on $2.5 million bail on murder and child endangerment charges.

The Monmouth County prosecutor’s office alleged that Farmer was in Joan Colbert’s apartment in Long Branch on July 30 when she caught him photographing Veronica Roach.

Farmer committed the crime of endangerment “by photographing or filming a child in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such act,” according to the criminal complaint. He also was charged with child endangerment by “engaging in sexual conduct which would impair or debauch the morals of a child,” according to the complaint.

After being discovered taking the pictures, Farmer strangled Colbert and the girl and fled, acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said. Investigators said they found pornographic photos on Farmer’s cellphone.

In 1995, Farmer held his 32-year-old then-girlfriend and her 15-year-old daughter hostage for a day and a half in the basement of their home and sexually assaulted the girl. He also allegedly beat both victims and threatened them with a knife. The woman escaped and summoned police, but he returned a day later and set the house on fire, according to reports at the time.

He was released from East Jersey State Prison in 2009 and most recently was living in Long Branch, on the northern reaches of the New Jersey shore, about a quarter-mile from Colbert.

At Thursday’s court appearance, Farmer sat silently with his head down, though he shook his head when the child endangerment charges were read.

The murder charges carry prison sentences of life without parole upon conviction; the four child endangerment charges carry sentences ranging from three to five years to 10 to 20 years.

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