UPDATE: The attorney for an Emerson man whose wife went missing eight years ago said his client will most likely be departed to his native Ireland if convicted of using false documents to renew his driver’s license.
Paschal Delahunty, a 52-year-old painter, lived in the U.S. under the name of a deceased friend from his homeland after emigrating 15 years ago, authorities said.
One of the charges pending against him, for displaying a driver’s license and Social Security card in the name of Joseph A. Murphy, is considered serious enough to carry a prison term.
CLIFFVIEW PILOT exclusively reported that Delahunty took the name from a childhood friend who died in a motorcycle crash in their native Irish County Carlow ( SEE: Husband of missing Emerson woman lived under childhood friend’s identity ).
Delahunty’s oldest daughter lives in Emerson with her younger sister, over whom she has full custody, defense attorney Joseph Raia said today.
Raia entered a not-guilty plea on his behalf today. Delahunty was returned to the Bergen County Jail, where he remained held on $100,000 bail today — down from an original $350,000.
Meanwhile, the investigation of the sudden disappearance of Liza Murphy was continuing.
The former Liza Stellatos went missing just days before her husband deliberately walked out in front of a fire official’s cruiser in a suicide attempt in neighboring Westwood. A recovering alcoholic, he had tried to kill himself once before, in 1990, authorities said at the time.
Police earlier had 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 after Murphy was officially declared missing in late August 2007.
They didn’t find anything.
The case turned bizarre when Delahunty walked into traffic five days after his wife’s disappearance, trying to kill himself, and suffered a broken hip. He has refused to speak with investigators since.
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 the probe was far from a cold case.
“During the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Liza Murphy, who was last seen on August 19, 2007, it was determined through interviews and evidence that her husband was using a false identity, and for years represented himself to be one Joseph Murphy with a date of birth of 3/11/1968,” Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said in December.
“Further investigation revealed that he is an immigrant of Ireland who entered the United States illegally, and whose legal name is Paschal Delahunty, with a date of birth of 4/13/1963,” he said.
Sources told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that Delahunty came from County Carlow.
“On 12/1/1990, Paschal Delahunty became a permanent resident of the United States, utilizing the false name Joseph Murphy,” the prosecutor said.
STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia
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