New Jersey Father Accused of Setting Car with 9-Year-Old Son’s Body Inside on Fire

Manuel Rivera, 43, has been charged with aggravated arson, authorities say

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of a police car and fire truck


Stock image of a police car and fire truck

A New Jersey man was charged with aggravated arson after his son was found dead in a burning car, according to authorities.

Police responded to a report of a fire in Sayreville, N.J. late Thursday evening and found Manuel Rivera, 43, standing next to a burning car with his son inside, according to authorities. Rivera was suffering from burn injuries and a self-inflicted wound, authorities said, according to, ABC 7 NY and NBC New York.

The nature of his wound was not immediately clear.

The car Rivera was standing nearby had allegedly been doused in gasoline, the outlets reported. Authorities discovered the body of his 9-year-old son inside the car.

Around the same time the fire was reported, police were also called to a local residence regarding a domestic dispute, per the outlets.

Authorities say a woman at the residence alleged that Rivera took off with their son after a domestic dispute late Thursday evening, NBC New York and ABC 7 NY reported.

A prosecutor alleges that Rivera drove his son to a local high school and set the vehicle on fire nearby, per

Rivera has been charged with aggravated arson, PIX 11 and ABC 7 NY report, citing officials, who say other charges may be added pending the child's autopsy report.

Related: Police Say There’s ‘No Evidence’ to Suspect Arson in Fire that Killed 5 Kids While Dad Was Out Shopping

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In a statement issued on Friday, Sayreville Public Schools said that a student from one of their schools died “tragically” in a car fire and that the child’s father is an employee at Sayreville Public Schools.

The statement expressed “great shock and sorrow” at the death of the child but did not provide any further details citing the ongoing investigation.

It’s unclear if Rivera, who was hospitalized as of the latest report on Friday afternoon, has retained an attorney on his behalf.

Anyone with information is urged to call Sayreville Detective Michael Pirigyi at 732-727-4444 or Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Detective Jose Rosario at 732-745-3289.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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