Courtroom Torres

Monroe resident Joao C. Torres was sentenced to 30 years without parole on July 6 in New Brunswick Superior Court for murdering his stepfather, Christopher Ernst, with an axe while he was sleeping. 

NEW BRUNSWICK – A Monroe resident was sentenced to 30-years in state prison for killing his stepfather with an axe while he slept.

Joao C. Torres, 27, received his sentence on July 6 in New Brunswick Superior Court for killing Christopher Ernst St., 46. Police discovered Ernst’s dead body on Jan. 4, 2017 in a garage room of a home the pair share on Garvey Drive in the township.

As part of the plea agreement reached with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, Torres is not eligible for parole.

In May, Torres pleaded guilty to crime, admitting that he hit Ernst three times in the head with an axe after his stepfather went to bed. Torres then wrapped Ernst in a blanket and garbage bag before moving the body into another room. He also admitted to taking Ernst’s wallet and using the credit cards at a Wawa in Old Bridge and Sayreville.

Torres was also sentenced to 10 years for disturbing human remains and five years each for two counts of fraudulent credit card use. Those sentencings will run concurrent to the 30-year prison term for murder.

Police started the investigation on Jan. 4, 2017 when they received a call from someone who was concerned when Ernst failed to report for work. Torres was arrested and eventually charged by Detective Joseph Silvestri of the Monroe Township Police Department and Detective Craig Marchak of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

When police began searching for Torres, he ran into woods several miles from his home. He was found in the woods hiding inside the back of a truck.

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Christopher Lang is a freelance correspondent for MonroeNow. Previously he was part of The Record-USA Today Network and served as an editor for a decade at NJMG.