Prosecutor: Death of Man Found in Road Ruled Homicide

A man found dead in the roadway of Hurley Pond Road in Howell early Friday morning has been identified and his death ruled a homicide, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni announced.

The Howell Township Police Department responded to a 911 call at 3:46 a.m. reporting an unconscious male laying in Hurley Pond Road just east of Route 547.  Upon arrival, a Hispanic male was located lying face down in the roadway.  The man, identified as Domingo Merino Rafael, 33, of Lakewood, was unresponsive.

MONOC personnel responded and the victim was pronounced dead at 4:12 a.m. by doctors at Newark Beth Israel Hospital. 

The incident was initially investigated as a fatal hit and run motor vehicle incident. However, upon the arrival of SCART investigators it was determined the incident was not related to a hit and run event.

Rafael was taken to the Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office where a post-mortem examination was performed this morning by Medical Examiner Allison Mautone M.D. and the staff of the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office. The cause of death was ruled a homicide. 

“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. The Walnut Street event is being investigated by the state Office of the Attorney General pursuant to their directive on officer-involved shootings,” said Gramiccioni.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is urged to contact Detective Kevin Condon of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 800-533-7443 or Detective Sgt. Peter Kuppler of the Howell Township Police Department at 732-938-4575 ext. 2245.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can contact Monmouth County Crime Stoppers’ confidential telephone tip-line by calling 1-800-671-4400; can text “MONMOUTH” plus their tip to 274637; or, they can email a tip via the website at  Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of criminals and fugitives.