NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - A Monroe man has received a sentence of 30 years in a New Jersey State prison for the 2017 ax-murder of his step-father.

Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey said that a Monroe Township man has pleaded guilty today for killing his stepfather, disturbing human remains, and using the victim’s credit cards.

Joao C. Torres, 27, of Monroe pleaded guilty to the murder of Christopher Ernst Sr., 46, who was found dead on January 4, 2017 in a garage room of a home they shared on Garvey Drive in Monroe Township.

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Torres also pleaded guilty to one count of disturbing human remains and two counts of fraudulent use of credit cards.

Under a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Bina Desai and Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Dana Morton, Torres will be sentenced to 30 years in a New Jersey state prison for the murder of his stepfather, which he must do without parole. He also will be sentenced to 10 years for disturbing human remains and 5 years for each count of fraudulent use of credit cards, these prison terms are to run concurrent to the 30-year sentence for murder.

As part of the plea agreement, Torres admitted to striking his step-father three times in the head with an axe after he went to bed. He then wrapped him in a blanket and garbage bag with duct tape and moved the body into another room. He also acknowledged taking his wallet and using the victim’s credit cards at a WaWa in Old Bridge and Sayreville.

Torres is scheduled to be sentenced in New Brunswick by Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez, Jr. on July 6, 2018.

The defendant was arrested and charged following an investigation by Detective Joseph Silvestri of the Monroe Township Police Department and Detective Craig Marchak of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

Police began the investigation when they received a call on January 4, 2017 from an individual who was concerned when Torres had failed to report for work. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

While police were searched for Torres, he ran into a section of woods several miles from his home; they found him in the woods hiding inside the back of a truck.