The suspicious death of a local photographer in Jersey City has been ruled a homicide, and police are searching for the suspect they believe beat them man to death.
Benjamin Stone was a well-known commercial photographer who had just moved to the city, and the 40-year-old had a close-knit group of friends. Over a week ago, one of those friends said he stopped answering texts and phone calls, leading them to call the police to do a wellness visit.
Officers who went to Stone's home found him dead inside, with the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office later declaring his death a homicide. Given the blunt force trauma to his body, officials believe he had been beaten to death, but they are not sure how and why it happened — making his death that much more difficult to deal with for those who knew him.
"Very shocked He is a well-loved, amazing person. He's probably one of the best photographers I've ever met," said friend Michael Barbieri, who said Stone had done work for Ralph Lauren and Vogue. "We don't know of any disputes, we don't know of any confrontations he's had with people."
Another friend, Nathan Sayers, described Stone as a "careful person. I don't think he was careless. I don't understand how someone like Ben could die in such a violent way, I really can't explain that."
Now the friends are demanding answers in Stone's death.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on the New Jersey police or the prosecutor, but at the same time it feels like it's moving a little slow," Sayers said. "And we want resolution. We want to know what happened to Ben."
The friends also created a GoFundMe page to help the family with funeral expenses and lawyer fees. But most of all, they want information — some indication of what happened and whoever's responsible to be taken into custody.