Monroe man pleads guilty in stepfather’s murder

A Monroe man pleaded guilty to killing his stepfather, disturbing human remains and using the victim’s credit cards.

Joao C. Torres, 27, pleaded guilty on May 11 to the murder of Christopher Ernst Sr., 46, who was found dead on Jan. 4, 2017, in a garage room of a home they shared on Garvey Drive in Monroe, according to information provided by Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey.

Torres also pleaded guilty to one count of disturbing human remains, and two counts of fraudulent use of credit cards.

Under a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Bina Desai and Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Dana Morton, Torres will be sentenced to 30 years in a New Jersey state prison for the murder of his stepfather, which he must do without parole. He also will be sentenced to 10 years for disturbing human remains and 5 years for each count of fraudulent use of credit cards, these prison terms are to run concurrent to the 30-year sentence for murder, according to the statement.

Police began the investigation when they received a call on Jan. 4, 2017, from an individual who was concerned when Torres had failed to report for work, according to the statement. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

While police were searched for Torres, he ran into a section of woods several miles from his home; they found him in the woods hiding inside the back of a truck.

As part of the plea agreement, Torres admitted to striking his step-father three times in the head with an axe after he went to bed. He then wrapped him in a blanket and garbage bag with duct tape and moved the body into another room. He also acknowledged taking his wallet and using the victim’s credit cards at a Wawa in Old Bridge and Sayreville.


Torres is scheduled to be sentenced in New Brunswick by Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez, Jr. on July 6.

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


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