Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
Monmouth County

Murder Victim Found With Hacked Face in New Jersey Road Identified

He appeared to have had his face hacked, a witness reported

What to Know

  • A man was found dead in the middle of a road in a heavily wooded area in New Jersey's Monmouth County early Friday, authorities say
  • Law enforcement swarmed the scene after patrolling officers made the discovery on Hurley Pond Road around 3:15 a.m.
  • A law enforcement source says there's evidence to indicate victim may have jumped out of vehicle, then been caught and killed by attackers

The Monmouth County prosecutor's office has identified the man found dead in the middle of a quiet New Jersey street early Friday. He appeared to have had his face hacked, a witness reported.

A person passing through the area came upon the grisly scene on Howell's Hurley Pond Road around 3:15 a.m. Domingo Merino Rafael, a 33-year-old man from Lakewood, was found dead, laying face down with significant trauma, according to Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni. 

Responding officers initially thought the man was a hit-and-run victim, a law-enforcement source said. 

Rafael was possibly trying to escape attackers when he jumped out of a car and tried to run on a New Jersey street, then apparently was caught and murdered, his body left in the middle of the road, the law enforcement source familiar with the case tells News 4.

Late Friday night, a fatal police-involved shooting occurred only a couple of miles away in Farmingdale, officials said early Saturday. The county prosecutor says there is no indication the two incidents were connected. 

“The public can rest assured there is no connection between the Hurley Pond Road homicide and the incident that occurred later Friday night at Walnut Street," said county prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni. 

The investigation is ongoing.

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