East Brunswick Man Sentenced To 30 Years For Sayreville Woman’s Murder

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NEW BRUNSWICK — An East Brunswick man has been sentenced to a 30-year prison term for fatally beating a 55-year-old woman in her apartment in Sayreville more than two years ago, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan announced today.

Elliot Rivera Jr., 22, was sentenced in New Brunswick by Superior Court Judge Dennis Nieves on Nov. 28, after pleading guilty on Aug. 26 to a count of murder in the July 31, 2009 death of Patricia Cantaloupe.

In a separate case, Rivera was sentenced to 10 years in prison for carjacking 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.

Nieves said the carjacking term will run concurrently with the murder count. The judge also reduced the 30-year term by 633 days Rivera has spent in custody since his arrest.

Rivera was sentenced after he pleaded guilty to both counts under an agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Manuel Sameiro.

A homicide 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.

As the homicide investigation continued, police in Spotswood determined that Rivera was involved in the carjacking, and charged him on March 4, 2010. He was arrested after he surrendered at police headquarters on March 5, 2010.

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 about the carjacking, and, after developing additional information, also charged him with murder.

At the time of the arrest, Kaplan credited Spotswood Detective Kevin Palmer and East Brunswick Detective Kevin Zebro, as well as Detective Cassidy and Investigator Crocco, for their work.

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