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Horror as New Jersey boy, 9, is found dead inside burning car at high school: Father, 43, is charged after he ‘doused vehicle in gasoline and set it ablaze after family dispute at home’

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  • Manuel Rivers, 43, of Sayreville, New Jersey , has been charged with aggravated arson according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office 
  • Police say they found Rivers outside Sayreville War Memorial High School next to a burning car that had the body of his son inside  
  • Authorities said that additional charges are pending following the autopsy report from the Middlesex County Medical Examiner 

A nine-year-old boy was found dead inside a burning car after his father doused the vehicle and set it alight following a domestic dispute, authorities have said.

Manuel Rivers, 43, of Sayreville, New Jersey, has been charged with aggravated arson according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. 

Police had been called to the family home shortly before 11pm on Thursday, and were told Rivera had left the residence with his son, whose name was not released. 

Around that same time, a fire was reported in the area of Sayreville War Memorial High School.

When police arrived at the school, they found Rivera next to a burning car that authorities said he had doused with gasoline. 

He had burns to his body as well a self-inflicted wound and was taken to a hospital. 

The boy’s body was found in the vehicle, but it was not yet known if he died in the fire or before it was set. 

When police arrived at the school, seen here, they found Rivera next to a burning car that authorities said he had doused with gasoline

When police arrived at the school, seen here, they found Rivera next to a burning car that authorities said he had doused with gasoline

Sayreville Mayor Kennedy O’Brien said in a statement: ‘On this Good Friday, Sayreville is waking up to learn of a horrific incident that occurred overnight that shakes our community to its core.

‘The loss of a nine-year-old child allegedly at the hands of a parent. Any time such senseless violence involves one of our children, it gravely affects all of Sayreville.

‘I want to assure you the community is safe, as the Sayreville Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office launches a detailed investigation this morning.

‘On behalf of a shocked and saddened community, I want to say that Sayreville stands in solidarity with the child and the family and friends who are enduring this inconceivable ordeal.’ 

Authorities said that additional charges are pending following the autopsy report from the Middlesex County Medical Examiner. 

The Sayreville superintendent shared a statement confirming the boy had attended Wilson School and his father worked for Sayreville Public Schools. 

The statement said: ‘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.’ 



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