Monroe man indicted in murder, theft

A Monroe Township man was indicted today on charges of killing his stepfather, stealing and using the victim’s credit cards, hiding evidence and fleeing from police.

Joao C. Torres, 26, was charged with the murder of Christopher Ernst Sr., 46, who was found dead on January 4, 2017 in a garage room of a home they shared on Garvey Drive in Monroe Township.

A grand jury sitting in Middlesex County also indicted Torres on charges of unlawful possession of a weapon; possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes; disturbing human remains; two counts of obstruction of the administration of law; two counts of hindering his apprehension; two counts of tampering with evidence, and theft of the victim’s 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe.

In addition, the panel charged Torres with unlawful theft of three of the victim’s credit cards and eight counts of fraudulent use of the credit cards to make purchases at five convenience stores, two fast-food restaurants and a gas station.

The indictment was handed up following an investigation by Detective Joseph Silvestri of the Monroe Township Police Department and Detective Craig Marchak of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

During the investigation it was determined that Torres repeatedly struck his stepfather with an unidentified weapon.

An autopsy by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office described the injuries as chop wounds.

Police began the investigation when they received a call on January 4, 2017 from an individual who was concerned when Torres had failed to report for work.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police subsequently searched for Torres and found him in a pickup truck in a section of woods several miles from his home.

Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Silvestri of the Monroe Township Police Department at (732) 521-0222, extension 151, or Detective Marchak of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3254.

As is the case with all criminal defendants, Torres is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

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