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Boy found dead in burning car after domestic dispute in Sayreville, New Jersey

SAYREVILLE, New Jersey (WABC) — The death of a 9-year-old boy is under investigation after he was found dead in a car in Sayreville.

Police responded to a call about a domestic dispute at 10:45 p.m. where a woman told officers that Manuel Rivera, 43, left the home with her 9-year-old son.

Authorities also received a call about a fire near Sayreville War Memorial High School. When they arrived at the scene on Washington Road, they found Rivera alive but with burns on his body and a self-inflicted wound.

He was next to a vehicle that was doused with gasoline and on fire with the deceased child inside.

Rivera was taken to the hospital where he is being treated for injuries and is charged with aggravated arson. Additional charges are pending the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report.

Prosecutors have not revealed the boy’s identity, but he was in third grade at Wilson School. Counselors and therapists will be available Monday to offer counseling or emotional support.

Rivera is believed to be an employee of Sayreville Public Schools.

“Very sad, when I was explaining it to my son today, I had to stay calm,” said neighbor Leo DaSilva. “I never imagined those were my neighbors.”

“On this Good Friday, Sayreville wakes up to learn of a horrific incident that occurred overnight that shakes our community to its core: the loss of a nine-year-old boy, allegedly at the hands of a parent. Any such a senseless moment. Violence involving one of our children severely affects all of Sayreville,” Mayor Kennedy O’Brien said in a statement.

O’Brien’s statement continued to assure that the community is safe and that there will be a detailed investigation.

Anyone with information or surveillance footage from the area is asked to call Detective Michael Pirigyi of the Sayreville Police Department at 732-727-4444 or Detective José Rosario of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at 732-745-3289.

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