Prosecutor: Man ID’d In Grisly Homicide

Photo courtesy Howell Township Police

FREEHOLD – Local and County authorities continue their investigation into the murder of a Lakewood man.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said the man found in the middle of Hurley Pond Road In Friday morning was 33-year-old Domingo Merino Rafael.

Gramiccioni confirmed they are treating this as a homicide investigation after it was originally believed to be a hit and run accident. That quickly changed once they did the preliminary probe and saw the state of the body and Rafael’s face.

The Howell Township Police Department responded to a 911 call at about 3:46 a.m. Friday 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 and obviously deceased.

MONOC personnel responded and the victim was pronounced deceased 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 as 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 Prosecutor Gramiccioni.

Anyone with information important to this investigation is urged to contact Detective Kevin Condon of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 800-533-7443 or Det. 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 www.monmouthcountycrimestoppers.com.

Monmouth County Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of criminals and fugitives.

The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Stephanie Dugan.