Kenneth Saal is a 30-year-old New Jersey man accused of killing his 26-year-old co-worker inside her Plainsboro apartment when she went home for lunch. Carolyn Byington was found dead by police on June 10, 2019, after other co-workers called because they were concerned that she had not come back to the office after the lunch break.
Prosecutors say Byington was stabbed to death and was also bludgeoned during a brutal attack in her own apartment.
Saal, a married father to a newborn baby who lives in Lindenwold, was arrested on August 21 on charges of first-degree murder and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey and Plainsboro Police Chief Fred Tavener announced in a press release. Authorities have not said if they know of a motive in the killing.
Saal and Byington worked together at Engine Group US, a marketing and advertising firm, in Princeton, New Jersey. Saal worked as a staff accountant, according to his Linkedin profile. Byington was a senior associate in project management.
Sources told NJ.com that Byington’s killer was waiting for her at the apartment. Officers found her with her personal belongings and said there was no sign of forced entry. Sources told the newspaper that Byington did not typically go home for lunch and it was unclear if she was lured there. She appeared to have been attacked soon after entering her apartment.
Neighbors told WABC-TV they heard faint screams coming from the apartment Monday afternoon, about 1 p.m., along with what they thought was furniture moving, but did not see anyone leave.
“I sincerely thank and commend the many dedicated members of law enforcement who have worked tirelessly to solve this homicide and apprehend the defendant. The investigation has been a top priority since the crime occurred,” Carey said in a statement. “I hope that the arrest brings at least some sense of peace to the friends and family of Carolyn, as well as the greater community.”
Here’s what you need to know about Kenneth Saal and the murder of Carolyn Byington:
1. Kenneth Saal Was Linked to the Murder Through DNA & His Co-Workers Told Police His ‘Demeanor Changed’ After Carolyn Byington Was Killed, According to Prosecutors
Carolyn Byington was found dead in her Plainsboro apartment the evening of Monday, June 10, 2019, by police who had been called there for a welfare check. “The Plainsboro Police responded to the home after they were asked by coworkers to do a wellness check on the victim at approximately 5:57 p.m. Upon arrival the police found the victim deceased in her apartment. She was pronounced dead at 7:36 p.m.,” authorities said in the press release. The co-workers at Engine US were concerned because she had not returned from lunch.
Byington had lived in the apartment on Hunters Glen Drive since 2016, according to public records. She appears to have been living alone.
According to charging documents obtained by NJ.com, Kenneth Saal left work for his lunch break the same day that Byington was killed. When he was late arriving back to the office, he told his supervisor that the needed to have repairs done to his car, according to prosecutors.
Police said Saal’s DNA “could not be excluded” as a match to evidence found under Byington’s fingernails, according to the court documents obtained by NJ.com. Investigators said Saal asked a co-worker, unprompted, if he could be arrested solely on circumstantial evidence. Co-workers also told police that Saal’s “demeanor changed” when he returned to work in the days following Byington’s death and they said they noticed cuts on his knuckles and hands.
Prosecutors said they determined he was not at a mechanic getting work done on his car, as he told his boss, and his vehicle was spotted in Plainsboro on June 10 at 2:04 p.m. on video footage, according to court documents.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey told the Bridgewater Courier News that the case was “frustrating.” After an investigation by the prosecutor’s office and Plainsboro Police that lasted more than two months, charges were filed against Byington’s co-worker, Kenneth Saal.
“On August 21, 2019, Saal was apprehended at his residence by members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Plainsboro Police Department, with the assistance of the Lindenwold Police Department and the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office – Homicide Unit,” authorities said in a press release.
2. Saal & His Wife Married in 2017 & He Is the Father of an Almost 1-Year-Old Daughter
Kenneth Saal was married in October 2017, according to a wedding website. He and his wife went to high school together and had been dating since 2008, according to the website. Saal is a New Jersey native who attended Howell High School.
Saal’s wife gave birth to their first child, a girl, in September 2018, according to a baby registry.
Saal does not appear to have a prior criminal record aside from a traffic ticket in New Jersey.
3. Saal Had Worked at Engine Group Since 2016
Kenneth Saal had worked as a staff accountant at Engine Group since July 2016, according to his Linkedin profile. He was previously a financial analyst at Valeant Pharmaceuticals in Bridgewater, New Jersey, from 2015 to 2016, and a senior accountant at The Mercadien Group from 2011 to 2015.
Saal graduated from Pace University in 2011 with a degree in public accounting and completed his master’s degree in business administration at Monmouth University in 2012.
Carolyn Byington and Saal began working at Engine around the same time. Byington was hired in February 2016 as an associate in project management. She became a senior associate in project management in May 2017 and was in that role at the time of her death.
The company said in a statement, “Engine is in mourning over this shocking, senseless tragedy. Carolyn was deeply cared about by her colleagues. We extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to her family and friends.” Engine has not commented about Saal’s arrest.
4. Byington Was a New Jersey Native Who Overcame a Birth Defect to Her Brain & Was a ‘Fairly Quiet Individual’ Just Going About Her Life Before She Was Killed
Carolyn Byington was a New Jersey native who grew up in Basking Ridge. She graduated from Ridge High School in 2011 and from Lafayette College in Pennsylvania in 2015 with degrees in international affairs and anthropology and sociology. She also spent a year studying abroad in Japan and was an English teaching assistant while studying there.
Byington had been involved in the Junior League of Greater Princeton since August 2016. While at Lafayette, Byington was an event coordinator for the American Cancer Society for three years and was a senior interviewer in admissions.
She is survived by her parents, Robert Byington and Jennifer Byington, and her younger sister.
Middlesex Prosecutor Andrew Carey told the Bridgewater Courier News that Byington was a “fairly quiet individual” who was just going about her life before she was killed.
Byington overcame a brain defect that she was born with and in her obituary, her family asked for donations to be made in her name to the doctor who helped her live.
“We want the last chapter of Carolyn’s life to be one where her friends and loved ones can help others in her memory. Carolyn was a true philanthropist who was active in many charitable organizations, and we know she would have wanted to help other children under Dr. Souweidane’s care by supporting his research,” said Carolyn’s mother, Jennifer Byington, wrote on the Children’s Brain Tumor Project donation website.
The website adds, “Dr. Mark Souweidane co-founded the Children’s Brain Tumor Project at Weill Cornell Medicine, under which he leads a team of researchers. Your support of his lab will enable his team to explore new inroads into researching Chiari malformation in addition to supporting his basic research on innovative surgical approaches to pediatric brain tumors. We thank you for making a donation in memory of Carolyn.”
Donations can be made here.
5. Saal Is Being Held in the Middlesex County Jail
Kenneth Saal is being held at the Middlesex County Jail, according to online records. Saal could not be reached for comment by Heavy and it is not clear if he has hired an attorney.
Saal made a brief court appearance via video link in Superior Court of Middlesex County in New Brunswick on August 22, according to NJ.com, and he is scheduled to return to court for a detention hearing on Friday.
“The investigation is active and is continuing. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Tim McMahon of the Plainsboro Police Department at (609) 799-2333 ext. 1627, or Detective David Abromaitis of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4436,” the prosecutor’s office said in a press release. “As in the case with all criminal defendants, the charges against Saal are merely accusations and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”