After missing for a week, Lakewood man found dead in parked SUV, lawyer says
LAKEWOOD — The family of a township man who went missing under suspicious circumstances now is preparing their final goodbyes, as his body has been recovered, according to the family's attorney.
Mauri Mendez, 29, was last seen alive Aug. 27 leaving his home in a tan, four-door Chevrolet Blazer with license plate number F62LZU. That day, he texted his mother about meeting at his sister's house, although he never showed up, family attorney Jef Henninger said Saturday.
Mendez's body was found in that same borrowed SUV, in the parking lot of the Wall Township ShopRite, Henninger said Sunday in a written statement.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office said Sunday evening that the death did not appear to be suspicious, as cause and manner of death were pending a medical examiner's report.
Wall Township police were responding to an unrelated matter late Saturday night when they recovered Mendez's body from the vehicle, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office said.
Henninger said "the family is devastated as this was not the outcome that anyone expected" and noted a GoFundMe page was being setup to help cover the costs of Mendez's funeral, as "no one plans to bury their 29 year old son."
In a news release issued before the grim discovery, Henninger said "His mother's birthday was on the 31st and they had a great relationship. He would have never disappointed her like that. There was also no falling out that would explain why he would stay away from his family."
Other details about Mendez's disappearance released before his body was recovered included:
— His phone is no longer on.
— His car was in the shop, so he was borrowing the car of his mother's boyfriend. Henninger said the car is being considered stolen because "there is no reason to believe that Mr. Mendez is voluntarily staying away from his family."
— Mendez is described as 5 feet 9 inches, 225 pounds with broad shoulders, brown eyes and dark brown hair with a fade cut.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the police.