SAYREVILLE – Police arrested an East Brunswick man who has been charged with fatally beating and robbing a 55-year-old Sayreville woman in her Winding Wood apartment last summer, authorities announced Saturday.
Elliot Rivera Jr., 20, of East Brunswick, was charged on the evening of March 5, with murder, armed robbery and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose following the slaying in July 2010 of Patricia Cantaloupe, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan said.
In a separate case, Rivera was charged with the carjacking of a 57-year-old Monroe Township woman, who was accosted in the parking lot of a Shop-Rite supermarket in Spotswood on February 26, 2010, authorities said.
Rivera is being held on $2 million bail in the murder case and an additional $250,000 on the carjacking charge, according to authorities.
An investigation led by Sgt. Thomas Cassidy of the Sayreville Police Department and Investigator Scott Crocco of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office began on July 31, 2009, when a building maintenance supervisor found Cantalupe dead in her apartment at the Winding Wood complex in Sayreville.
An autopsy subsequently showed the woman died from blunt force trauma to the head after she was struck multiple times with a weapon that later was determined to be a hammer.
The investigation further revealed that her assailant fled with an undisclosed amount of cash and jewelry, authorities said.
As the homicide investigation continued, police in Spotswood determined that Rivera was involved in the carjacking, and charged him on March 4. He was arrested after he surrendered at police headquarters on March 5.
Spotswood police were dispatched to the supermarket parking lot after the Monroe Township woman told authorities she had been approached by a man, who grabbed her arm and told her to get into her car, a red Honda. The man fled when the woman screamed.
Police subsequently questioned Rivera in the carjacking, and, after developing additional information, also charged him in the homicide.
Kaplan praised Spotswood Detective Kevin Palmer and East Brunswick Detective Kevin Zebro, as well as Detective Cassidy and Investigator Crocco for their work.
Rivera, who remains in custody, is expected to appear for a hearing at the Middlesex County Courthouse in New Brunswick today.
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