Missing New Jersey Man With Learning Disability Found Dead: Family

September 7, 2020 Updated: September 7, 2020

Officials have found the body of a New Jersey man missing for a week inside his SUV in a grocery store parking lot over the weekend, a lawyer said.

Mauri Mendez, 29, called his mother on Aug. 27, saying he would visit his sister in Toms River, located near their home in Lakewood, according to officials. He was not seen or heard from again, his family said.

“The family is devastated as this was not the outcome that anyone expected. As no one plans to bury their 29-year-old son,” said family lawyer Jef Henninger in a statement to NJ.com.

Police found Mendez on Sunday morning in the parking lot of a Shoprite in Wall Township in a 2000 Chevy Blazer. Mendez had borrowed the vehicle from his sister’s boyfriend, Henninger said.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office told NJ 101.5 on Sunday evening that the death did not appear to be suspicious. The cause and manner of death are under investigation.

Lakewood Police Capt. Gregory Staffordsmith confirmed that a deceased person was found inside the vehicle. They, however, did not confirm the identity of the person, the report said, citing Henninger.

“We ask that you keep the Mendez family in your thoughts during this difficult time,” Staffordsmith said in an email.

The family set up a GoFundMe for funeral expenses.

His sister, Sabrina Loehwing, said he suffered from a learning disability and was very trusting of people, according to the report.

“My brother has a learning disability. He’s 29 but his mind is like a 15-year-old,” Loehwing said. “He’s vulnerable. He’s very trusting in people. He’s just a loving person. He thinks everyone he meets is his friend. I don’t know if he was talking to someone and that person wasn’t a good person. Anything is possible.”