Dennis Clement still can't forgive himself for moving out of Fords.
It's almost two years to the day he got a phone call from a neighbor in the old neighborhood where he used to live.
The neighbor called to tell him his father was found dead.
"Is this a joke? C'mon, it's a joke, right?" Dennis said.
It was no joke.
On March 25, 2010, police found the beaten and broken body of his father at the tidy King Georges Post Road home James Clement had built more than 50 years ago with his own hands.
Now two years later, despite a Herculean effort by Woodbridge police and county investigators, the trail on who killed James Clement has grown cold. That's why his son is offering a $5,000 reward for information in the crime.
"My dad didn't believe in guns. He had nothing to protect himself," Dennis said. "I told him to look over his shoulder. The clientele in that area has changed quite a bit over the years."
James Clement was 82 years old when he was murdered. The front door to the house was open; his body was found outside the open closet door in his bedroom, the safe where he had hidden away his dead wife's jewelry and his own coin collection, was empty and open.
When Dennis came home to Fords to pick up the broken threads of the life his father had left so violently, there was little evidence anything had happened - just a small spot on the rug in the bedroom where his father's bloody head had been.
It was only after Dennis, his wife, and his cousin were cleaning the house out and removing the bedroom carpet that he found a huge bloodstain on the floor under the rug.
The stain gave mute testimony to the ferocity of the attack.
To this day, Dennis Clement wishes he had been in Fords, rather than in Delaware where he moved in 1980. "If I had been there, this never would've happened," he said.
His father's home is on a busy road, right across from the well-frequented Liberty Tavern, where his mother, who died in 2003, had worked years ago in the kitchen.
Dennis is at a loss as to why police can't find anyone who saw what happened.
He said that police think his father knew his attacker, and let him into the house. His son doesn't believe it, even though at one point investigators were checking him out to see if he was involved.
"At first they thought I was a suspect, but I flipped out. I said, what the hell is the matter with you people?"
Dennis said that law enforcement officials investigated everyone in the area. "They said half the people in this neighborhood had a rap sheet," he said.
His father, whom he described as "a very healthy, very active man" had been a member of a walking club in a local mall. Dennis said James Clement had suddenly dropped out of the club and had taken to getting his exercise on streets in the neighborhood.
"He wouldn't tell me why he stopped walking in the mall," Dennis said. "I have a feeling someone was watching him there. Someone followed him and found out where he lived.
"My father was well liked in the neighborhood. He had a garden, and he'd give away all the stuff he grew. There was no reason for anyone to do this."
The house has been cleaned up and sold, but the horror of what happened to his father remains. All he wants is to find out who killed James Clement, and have them brought to justice.
"What's wrong with this world? Why do people do things like this?" Dennis said.
To Offer Information in the Death of James Clement:
Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Tim Laughery of the Woodbridge Police Department at 732-634-7700, or Investigator Scott Crocco of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-4471.
In addition, Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County Inc. is offering cash rewards to anyone who wants to provide information anonymously.
The phone number is: 1-800-939-9600. The website is middlesextips.com. Text messages may be sent to 274637 (CRIMES) with the keyword ‘’midtip’’ followed by a message.
Those who call will be given instructions on how to collect cash rewards by using a numerical code that will be recognized by a local bank, which will pay the rewards following approval by Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County Inc.