Child found dead in burning car near NJ school; man charged with arson

A child was found dead in a burned-out vehicle near Sayreville High School in New Jersey, and authorities said a man is now charged with aggravated arson.

Authorities received a 911 call on Tuesday around 10:45 p.m. of a fire in the area of the Middlesex County school. While responding, an additional call came in reporting a related domestic dispute. 

Police who arrived on the scene talked to the woman who called 911 about the domestic dispute. She told authorities the dispute led to Manuel Rivera, 43, of Sayreville, leaving the home with their 9-year-old son.

Officers near the school then found Rivera alive but with burns to his body – including a self-inflicted wound. A vehicle doused with gasoline and on fire was next to him. 

Rivera was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where he was treated for his injuries. Authorities said the body of a dead child was found in the vehicle.

Additional charges against Rivera are pending the autopsy report from the Middlesex County Medical Examiner.

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