Woman’s body found at construction site


By elaine van develde
Staff Writer

Woman’s body found
at construction site
By elaine van develde
Staff Writer

Work at a residential development site on Green Grove Road in Tinton Falls was halted on Monday after workers unearthed the body of an as-yet-unidentified woman.

Workers were clearing the land near the southwest corner of the property when they opened the woman’s shallow grave.

"At this point, we’re treating this as a homicide investigation," said county First Assistant Prosecutor Robert A. Honecker. "The site has been secured and we’re gathering evidence. An autopsy will determine identity and cause of death. Until then, there are no real answers."

What the county Prosecutor’s Office and Tinton Falls police do know is that at about 3:30 p.m. Monday, Bil-Jim Construction, Jackson, was using its backhoe to conduct typical excavation work on the roughly 10-acre site that is approved for 21 single-family homes.

The developer is Arcon Development, LLC, Ocean Township.

Bil-Jim had been in the beginning stages of construction for a few weeks, according to Tinton Falls police Capt. David Trevena.

Everything was typical about the construction work until Monday, he said, when a spot in the southwest section of the land near the Green Grove roadway was cleared.

The machinery unearthed the body of what appeared to be a young woman, said Trevena.

"The body was definitely buried in what I would call a shallow grave," said Honecker. "It was under approximately 8-10 inches of dirt, which was covered with wood debris."

He added that the debris was comprised of tree limbs.

The part of the property on which the body was found was the site of a recently demolished home. The mailbox still stands with the number 813 on it.

"From what I understand, the construction worker was just scratching the surface when the body was uncovered," Trevena said. "It had been raining, so it was encased in a lot of mud. The earth on the site was still pretty wet."

Trevena said the borough police were immediately called. When they arrived on the scene, "the site was secured right away and the forensic unit of the county Prosecutor’s Office was called," he said.

What investigators from the Prosecutor’s Office saw was "the body of a woman who appeared to be between 15 and 25 years of age."

The body, said Honecker, was "partially decomposed but did not appear to have been there for a significant amount of time. Decomposition had begun. That, combined with the fact that the body was covered with dirt and it had been raining a lot recently made it difficult to determine a race."

On Tuesday, Honecker said, the body was to be autopsied by the Monmouth County medical examiner and more answers would come.

The medical examiner was being assisted by Dona Fontanna, a forensic specialist with the New Jersey State Police, Honecker noted.

Results were expected on Wednesday after press time.

"The site will remain closed to construction and we will pursue any leads which develop as a result of the autopsy," Honecker said.

The site where the body was found was guarded overnight on Monday by the Tinton Falls police and will continue to be guarded. On Tuesday afternoon, Honecker and Trevena both said that the site was being combed for clues.

No further speculation was offered by either Honecker or Trevena.

"Conjecture could jeopardize the investigation and end up being detrimental," said Trevena. "We really have to leave the determination of facts to the experts. We just don’t know enough yet. We do know that the body was clearly buried. Usually in an accidental death most people won’t bury people, though. That’s why it’s being treated as a homicide, even though that hasn’t been determined. The autopsy and more investigation will give some the answers we need."

In the meantime, teletypes were sent to police departments throughout several states, asking for any recent reports of a missing person fitting the description of the body found.

Trevena said no missing persons have been reported in Tinton Falls.

Honecker said there have been no inquiries or reports made to the Prosecutor’s Office either.

The county Prosecutor’s Office’s Major Crime Squad, Tinton Falls police and the state police are all involved in the investigation.

Anyone with any lead or information on a missing person fitting the description was advised to call the Prosecutor’s Office at 1-800-533-7443 or Trevena at Tinton Falls police at (732) 542-3400, extension 274.