The day after the Monday’s funeral for veterans’ advocate and radio host April Kauffman, authorities were still looking for the 47-year-old’s killer.
Kauffman, who lived with her husband, endocrinologist Dr. James Kauffman, was found dead in the couple’s Woodstock Drive home Thursday, May 10. She sustained multiple gunshot wounds, according to the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
At 11:30 a.m. May 10, Linwood Police responded to a 9-1-1 call from one of Kauffman’s workers, who discovered her shot in her bedroom.
Woodstock Drive was closed to non-residents last Thursday and Friday.
The homicide is under investigation by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Unit and the Linwood Police Department.
Kauffman, an Atlantic County native, was the co-owner of Cherry Café and Catering Company and the owner of Artistic Salon, both based in Northfield. She was also a WOND 1400 AM radio host. Her final broadcast was re-aired on WIBG 1020 Monday at 3 p.m. in memoriam.
Longport Media, the station’s parent company, declined comment on Kauffman’s passing due to the sensitive nature of the subject.
Beyond her business ventures, Kauffman was known for her charity work and, particularly, her veteran’s advocacy.
She was involved with the Wounded Warriors Project and worked with the United States Coast Guard to bring awareness to the Operation Fireside program, where Coast Guard members are paired with local families for holidays. The Sentinel had featured her several times for her work with the Coast Guard.
She also served on the boards of the Southern Shore Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Atlantic County Toys for Kids program.
According to Donna Clementoni, who volunteered with Kauffman for the Employer Support of the (Coast) Guard and Reserve, Kauffman became involved four years ago in a cause to get the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) to allow veterans who use the group’s health care services to receive treatment at local hospitals.
At the time, veterans requiring hospital care had to travel to a VA hospital to obtain such care. The closest hospitals for area veterans are located in Wilmington, Del. and Philadelphia.
On Wednesday, May 9, Kauffman learned that Shore Medical Center in Somers Point and its Shore Physicians Group were certified by Health Net Federal Services/TRICARE to provide the veteran services she advocated for.
“It was her biggest accomplishment,” Lee Darby, Kauffman’s close friend and partner at Cherry Café and Catering, said. “She went right up to General (Eric) Shinseki (U.S. Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs) in the Pentagon, and he listened to her.”
“She was just telling me the day before she died that she was on top of the world. That she did it, that they really were helping people locally,” Clementoni added. “It was just unbelievable that in that short time, life can be taken away. Hopefully justice will be done.”
Clementoni said she and Kauffman were helping plan a celebration for the TRICARE certification with Shore Medical Center before her death.
“We still will (hold the celebration), and she’ll be there in spirit,” Clementoni said.
Clementoni said that she had only known Kauffman for a year but became close friends with her because of their time volunteering and similar personalities.
She said she worked with Kauffman the Friday before her death at the Law Enforcement Show of Strength in Mays Landing. They were also working on a veterans’ scholarship for the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
Kauffman was the recent recipient of the governor’s Jefferson Award for Volunteer Leadership. She invited Clementoni and friends to the award ceremony in a limousine.
“She had a huge personality,” Clementoni said. “I told her she was part princess and part pitbull. She loved that.”
“April was a force to be reckoned with,” said Darby. “She got a project in her mind, and she saw it through.”
Her biggest project, and passion, was her work with veterans, Darby said, who hopes to continue Kauffman’s work in tribute to her friend.
“The world has lost a genuine, true American who just wanted to do good,” Darby said. “She helped so many people in many walks of life, and she’s a wonderful person. It’s an incredible loss, and it’s an incredible loss to me because I lost my best friend of 30 years. I’m going to pick up the torch and see if I can carry it forward for her as much as I can.”
Kauffman’s website lists a daily quote of hers as “remember to donate blood and give generously.”