Trupal Patel, 29, of Brick, was found dead in a Monmouth County park Feb. 22 (Photo: MCPO)
FREEHOLD -- A 20-year-old Ocean Township resident was charged Saturday with the murder of a Brick man, who was found dead in Shark River Park, prosecutors said.
Joseph C. Villani also faces charges of felony murder, robbery and weapons offenses after the slaying of 29-year-old Trupal Patel, Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni said in a statement.
A park ranger was collecting litter when he discovered Patel's body down a slight slope along Gully Road in Wall Township around 8:40 a.m. Wednesday, according to Gramiccioni. Investigators soon learned a friend had reported Patel missing to Asbury Park police Feb. 9.
Police also discovered a car used by Patel abandoned on an Asbury Park street that day, according to the prosecutor's office.
Man found dead in Wall was homicide victim, authorities say
"That information prompted the Asbury Park Police Department to join the murder investigation," said Gramiccioni. "Also, in the early stages of the investigation, the Ocean Township Police Department joined the investigation after ties to the township were discovered. Ultimately, detectives involved in the investigation determined that the incident had occurred in an Ocean Township residence."
Villani will be held at the Monmouth County Correctional Institution ahead of a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday. The prosecutor's office did not disclose a motive for the slaying.
Gramiccioni credited the joint efforts of prosecutor's office, Wall, Ocean and Asbury Park police through the investigation, which remained ongoing.
Anyone with information was urged to contact Detective Pamela Smith of the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office at 800-533-7443, Detective Michael Steitz of the Wall Township Police Department at 732-449-4500 or Detective Steven Walker of the Ocean Township Police Department at 732-531-1800.
Information can also be provided anonymously via Monmouth County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-671-4400 or text "MONMOUTH" and your tip to 274637 (CRIMES).
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