New Jersey couple indicted for killing Indian American Trupal Patel

Trupal Patel

Joseph Villani, pictured, and his girlfriend have been indicted for the alleged murder of Trupal Patel.

FREEHOLD, N.J. (Diya TV) — A couple indicted by a grand jury on Monday charged with killing Indian American Trupal Patel and then dumped his body in a park.

Joseph Villani, 21, of Ocean Township, and his 20-year-old girlfriend Raquel Garajau, of Tinton Falls, were indicted on 13 counts in connection with the February killing of the 29-year-old Patel, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office announced Monday night.

The prosecutor’s office in Ocean Township, as well as other law enforcement bodies, initially launched the investigation into Patel’s death, after his body was found by a park ranger who was collecting litter along Shark River Park shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 22. After authorities identified the deceased man’s body as Patel, they learned that a friend had reported him missing to the Asbury Park Police Department on Feb. 9, the same day that a car Patel was driving prior to his disappearance was discovered abandoned.

Villani became a suspect in Patel’s death after the mother of one of Villani’s friends called police to report her son may know something about the disappearance, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Decker said in court on March 9.

That friend told authorities he had helped Villani move what he later learned was Patel’s 2003 Jaguar on Feb. 7 after Villani told him he needed help relocating the car because the brakes needed to be repaired, Decker said. Villani had initially told investigators he was not in Patel’s car, but then changed his account and said he stole the car and a Movado watch that was in it, according to the Ocean Township Police Department’s affidavit of probable cause filed against Villani.

Villani was alleged to have been wearing Patel’s Movado watch while he was being interviewed by investigators. That’s when he, according to detectives, told them several times “I did it” but did not elaborate, Decker said.

However, a man described as Villani’s “best friend” told investigators that before Patel went missing, Villani had expressed an interest in robbing Patel, according to the affidavit. He asked about how much marijuana and money Patel had and what type of car he drove, according to the affidavit.

Garajau told detectives that Villani never revealed to her what he had done with Patel’s body. However, the prosecutor’s office said in a release Monday that additional work by detectives “revealed evidence that Garajau conspired with Villani to commit these crimes and aided him in destroying and concealing evidence in connection with the murder and robbery of Patel.”

Villani and Garajau were each indicted on charges of first-degree murder and felony murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree disturbing or desecrating human remains, tampering with a witness, weapons offenses, and multiple counts of tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension, the prosecutor’s office said.

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