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Pascack Valley Daily Voice serves Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Washington Township, Westwood & Woodcliff Lake

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Pascack Valley Daily Voice serves Emerson, Hillsdale, Montvale, Park Ridge, River Vale, Washington Township, Westwood & Woodcliff Lake

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  • Northern Highlands
    serves Allendale, Ho-Ho-Kus, Midland Park, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River & Waldwick
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    serves Harrington Park, Haworth, Northvale, Norwood, Old Tappan & Rockleigh
  • Paramus
    serves Oradell, Paramus & River Edge
DV Pilot police & fire

Cadaver Dog 'Hit' Prompts Digging In Emerson Woods

Investigators search United Water site in Emerson.
Investigators search United Water site in Emerson. Photo Credit: Jerry DeMarco

EMERSON, N.J. -- Investigators were digging in a wooded area of United Water property Monday morning in Emerson.

A law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation told Daily Voice that a cadaver dog "hit on a spot in the woods," bringing the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office and the county sheriff's Crime Scene Unit.

They wouldn't say what, if anything, they found -- or whether the search was connected to the sudden disappearance of Liza Murphy of Emerson in 2007.

Two weeks ago, her husband -- whose real name is Paschal Delahunty -- admitted that he used his dead friend's identity to live illegally in the U.S. for more than 15 years.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Delahunty must self-deport to Ireland. Meanwhile, he remained held in the Bergen County Jail on $100,000 bail — down from an original $350,000 following his Christmas Eve 2014 arrest on charges of using false documents to renew his driver's license.

The former Liza Stellatos went missing just days before Delahunty -- then known as Joseph Murphy -- deliberately walked in front of a fire official’s cruiser in a suicide attempt in neighboring Westwood. A recovering alcoholic, he had tried to kill himself in 1990, authorities said at the time.

Police earlier questioned him about his then-42-year-old wife’s disappearance, which was reported by one of her friends. He told them she took off after he confronted her about an affair, leaving behind her purse, cellphone, keys, cigarettes — and their three children.

Nor did she bring medication she was taking for fibromyalgia, a sometimes debilitating muscle and tissue condition, authorities said.

Police in Emerson gathered about 200 people and searched the woods around the Oradell Reservoir but didn't find anything.

Searchers had new hope six years ago, when a tipster led detectives to the back of the town’s American Legion Hall, where they quietly did some digging.

A law enforcement source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT at the time that they didn’t find anything of value — but that it was far from a cold case.

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