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‘It Was Either Him or Me’: Associate Warden Charged with Murdering Husband Allegedly Admitted Shooting in Post-Arrest Interview

Antonia Ashford

Antonia Ashford (courtesy Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office)

In another embarrassment for a New York federal jail holding accused sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, an associate warden there was charged this week with shooting her husband to death. Both Antonia Ashford and her now-late husband Roderick Ashford were reportedly Bureau of Prison employees.

Showing the deterioration of the couple’s relationship in previously unknown detail, a criminal complaint obtained by Law&Crime shines a light on the woman’s post-arrest interview and the alleged murder from the perspective of an adult son, whom detectives interviewed at the crime scene.

According to the complaint, the son called gunplay “typical” inside the Ashford household, and the mother allegedly admitted the shooting to detectives in a taped interview.

“A Gunshot Wound to the Face”

Detective Robert Reiff, from Jackson Township in New Jersey, wrote in a criminal complaint that the son told him this was not the first time one of his parents pulled out a gun.

The son said that “his mother and father often have arguments and at times either one could be the aggressor,” the detective wrote. “He advised that it was typical that during their fights that Antonia and Roderick would point firearms at each other.”

That “typical” scene underwent a deadly escalation in the early morning hours on Monday.

At 2:17 a.m., police say they responded to a 911 call by the couple’s son indicating that “there was a shooting at the home and the father was dead.” Police say the son identified his mother as the shooter, and authorities found the father when they arrived on the floor with a “gunshot wound to the face.”

According to the complaint, the son told authorities he was upstairs playing a video game when the shooting happened and that he did not see it take place.

“He walked past his parents as they were arguing and observed Antonia holding a firearm, but noticed Roderick to be unarmed,” the criminal complaint states. “Approximately ten minutes went by and he then heard a gunshot.”

“It Was Either Him or Me”

Some three hours later at 5:33 a.m., detectives say they read Antonia Ashford her rights and began a taped interview.

“Antonia Ashford advised that she and Roderick were arguing throughout the early evening hours and the two got into a physical altercation,” the complaint states. “Antonia eventually locked herself in the downstairs bathroom with her purse which contained the handgun.”

According to detectives, she told authorities that she staying in that bathroom for 30 minutes to an hour while her husband called her cell phone, which she put on silent.

“Antonia further advised that she heard the victim speaking to her son about injuries to his face that she caused,” the complaint states.

Detectives say the argument continued after she left the bathroom and that she pointed the gun at him and fired.

“She acknowledged that moments prior to firing her weapon she knew the victim was unarmed,” the complaint states.

“Throughout the interview Antonia advised that something was different today, specifically stating ‘it was either him or me’ while also stating multiple times that she did not mean to pull the trigger,” it continues.

“Lying Supine in the Hallway”

After the interview, detectives say they returned to the crime scene to find the husband “lying supine in the hallway next to the bathroom door” and found a “can of Modelo beer” between his legs.

“No weapons were recovered from his person,” the complaint states. “A single gunshot wound to the right cheek at the base of the nose was observed.”

Authorities also say they found one spent shell casing and, in the bathroom, a concealment holster, a purse and a Glock semiautomatic handgun.

The Metropolitan Detention Center did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s email seeking comment about the associate warden’s arrest and information about her employment.

The MDC, whose allegedly brutal conditions has filled the pages of Maxwell’s pre-trial motions, has held the likes of NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere, embattled singer R. Kelly, and so-called “Pharma Bro” and convicted fraudster Martin Shkreli. The jail has faced criticism in recent years over poor conditions in which incarcerated people are kept, particularly in the wake of the 2019 freeze that plunged the facility into cold darkness.

Instead of working inside a federal jail in Brooklyn, Antonia Ashford has spent the days since her arrest inside the Ocean County Jail, pending charges of murder and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose. Jail records currently list her marital status as “widowed.”

She has a detention hearing scheduled on Friday.

Marisa Sarnoff contributed to this report.

[Image via Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."