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UPDATE: Child Found Inside Car Doused with Gasoline, Burned to Death in Sayreville


By: Richard L. Smith 

In a shocking incident that has rocked the Borough of Sayreville, authorities are currently investigating a case involving the death of a child and an act of aggravated arson.AdMiddlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Sayreville Police Chief Daniel Plumacker disclosed the grim details of the events that unfolded on the evening of March 28. 

The series of events began at approximately 10:45 p.m. when a 911 call reported a fire near Sayreville High School.

As emergency services rushed to the scene, another distress call regarding a domestic dispute redirected them to Eisenhower Drive.

There, officials said they encountered a female victim who reported that Manuel Rivera, a 43-year-old resident of Sayreville, had left their home with their 9-year-old son amidst the domestic turmoil.

At a location close to Sayreville High School, on Washington Road, authorities discovered Rivera with burns and a self-inflicted wound.

A vehicle nearby, engulfed in flames and drenched in gasoline, held a more harrowing scene — the body of a deceased child was found inside.

Officials said Rivera was urgently transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

He has been charged with second-degree Aggravated Arson, with the possibility of facing additional charges pending the autopsy results from the Middlesex County Medical Examiner.AdSayreville Superintendent said the following:

“It is with great shock and sorrow that I report to you that a Wilson School student was tragically killed last night in a car fire behind Sayreville War Memorial High School. The child’s father, who is an employee of the Sayreville Public Schools and was the driver of the vehicle, survived and is now being treated for life-threatening injuries. Since the matter is currently being investigated by the Sayreville Police and Fire Departments, as well as the Office of the Middlesex County Prosecutor, no additional details can be released at this time.

On Monday, counselors and therapists will be at the Wilson School to provide bereavement counseling and emotional support to our students and staff. If you are a person of faith, please take the time to pray for our student and his family, including his extended family at the Wilson School. If you are not, please take a moment to send your positive thoughts to him and his family.“-Dr. Labbe

The investigation remains ongoing, with authorities appealing to the public for any information or surveillance footage of the area.AdDetective Michael Pirigyi of the Sayreville Police Department and Detective Jose Rosario of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office are leading the inquiry, urging anyone with knowledge of the incident to come forward.