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March 15, 2017

Arrest made in beating death of homeless South Jersey man

Sylvester 'Buttons' Combs Jr. was killed in Gloucester County last April

A man has been arrested in the beating death of 61-year-old Sylvester “Buttons” Combs Jr. last April in Swedesboro, Gloucester County.

Malcolm Tyson, 23, most recently of Paulsboro, faces murder charges in the incident, and knew Combs beforehand, said authorities, who did not offer a motive.

Tyson is also charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Evidence collected in an unrelated arson a month later played a role in identifying the alleged killer, according to Sean F. Dalton, Gloucester County's prosecutor.

Tyson also faces charges in that arson case, authorities said. He has been in custody since August 2016 following an armed robbery in West Deptford, the prosecutor said.

A first court appearance for Tyson via video was scheduled for this afternoon.

Relatives of Combs praised the work of authorities in making the arrest and also for their support during the last 11 months.

Police discovered Comb's body after he was reported missing in the town of about 2,500.

Combs was known to frequent the trailer where his body was found

An autopsy revealed Combs was beaten to death, struck multiple times.

While homeless, Combs was a part of the community, friendly with downtown business owners.

The community had offered a $7,500 reward. Information from the public was used in making the case, according to authorities.

Police from surrounding Woolwich Township, which encircles Swedesboro, had gone looking for the man because he had not been seen in several days. Woolwich provides police services to the borough. West Deptford police also aided in the investigation.