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Former Elizabeth Avenue School Administrator Found Dead In Palisades

John Norton

John Norton was found dead Nov. 22 in the Palisades. Photo: NJ State Police.


The body of a former Elizabeth Avenue School assistant principal was found Nov. 22 more than 300 feet below the cliffs of the State Line Lookout area in the Palisades, police said.

Police recovered the body of John Norton, 35, of Palisades, early in the morning, after resuming a search from the prior day that had to be called off because of darkness and bad weather, according to a press release from the Palisades Interstate Parkway Police.

Norton resigned from the school district on Dec. 8, 2013 and was arrested on Dec. 9 on charges of selling methamphetmine from his Bound Brook home. Norton had been arrested in late November in Raritan Township on charges of  driving under the influence of narcotics and possession of methamphetmine.

The Palisades press release said that a car later identified as Norton’s was seen parked after the park’s closing in the State Line Lookout section of the Palisades in Alpine by Officer Richard Dey. Dey saw the car earlier in his shift, the release said.

A search for the car’s occupants along the trails proved fruitless, so Westchester County Police were called for help from their aviation unit. Infra-red and thermal cameras were used to no avail, and bad weather and the darkness made further helicopter searches unsafe, the release said.

The next morning, at about 7, Det. Roman Galloza and other Palisades officers resumed the search. Before long, Officer Jeffrey Lamboy and Palisades Interstate Parkway Trail Crew SupervisorChristina Fehre located a body later identified as Norton’s, the release said.

Police said Norton’s body was found about 320 feet below the cliffs. The body was recovered by members of the Regional Rappel Response team from Closter, Englewood Cliffs and East Bergen, the release said.

Officer Lamboy injured his knee, the only injury reported by searchers.

No foul play is suspected in Norton’s death, police said.

“At this time, it has been determined that Mr. Norton’s death was caused by no other actions other than his own,” the release said.

Township school officials said at the time of Norton’s resignation that he was about to be fired because the district had received a notice from the state Department of Education that Norton had been arrested for something that would “disqualify him from employment.”

Norton did not report the arrest to the administration, which meant the district would have to let him go.

When Norton was arrested in his Bound Brook home, police reported finding a partially clothed, unresponsive man who was vomiting. Also found was more than four ounces of crystal methamphetamine, 36 ounces of GHB – the street value of which was placed at $15,000 – drug paraphernalia and more than $4,000 in cash.

In March, 2014, Norton pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to five years in the Somerset County drug court program.

 

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