Body Found ID'd as Missing North Plainfield Man
26-year-old Manuel Antonio Guevara was last seen alive on Dec. 26. His body was recovered from Watchung Lake Friday morning.
The body of a 26-year-old missing North Plainfield man was found in Watchung Lake Friday morning.
The cause of Manuel Antonio Guevara's death has not yet been determined, the Somerset County Prosecutor's Office said.
Guevara's body was recovered from the lake by divers with the Somerset County Dive Team at 8 a.m. according to a press release sent Friday by Somerset County Prosecutor Geoffrey D. Soriano, Chief of Detectives Stuart A. Buckman and Watchung Borough Police Chief Timothy Wenzel. Authorities searched for Guevara throughout the day on Thursday in the area and partially drained the lake.
The man's body was found about 20 feet from the shoreline, the prosecutor's office said.
Guevara was last seen at about 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 26 leaving work at the Water & Wine restaurant located adjacent to the lake, according to Soriano. His family reported him missing to the Watchung Borough Police Department on Dec. 28.
Police located a pair of men's sneakers believed to be Guevara's on Jan. 2 that were adjacent to the lake and at the back of the restaurant, the prosecutor's office said. When officers investigated, they also found a wallet near the sneakers that had documents belonging to Guevara. Police were able to confirm the sneakers belonged to Guevara as well through video surveillance footage.
On Wednesday, the Somerset County Sheriff's Office K-9 unit responded to Watchung Lake and after sniffing the sneakers, police dog Boone led officers to the edge of the lake. The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office Dive-Rescue Team responded Thursday and began searching for Guevara where Boone indicated he may have entered the water.
"Divers searched the icy waters and due to poor visibility in the water the search was terminated at 2:30 p.m. A decision was made to drain the water in the lake and with the assistance of Watchung Borough Mayor Gerald M. Mobus, the level of the water was lowered to assist in the search," the press release said.
The divers responded to the lake at about 6:30 a.m. Friday and the body was located at about 8 a.m. under ice. Guerava's body was transported to the Regional Medical Examiner's Office in Newark for a postmortem examination and determination of the cause of death.
Additional assisting police agencies include the New Jersey State Police Aviation Unit, the Bedminster Township Police Department, Hillsborough Police Department, Bridgewater Police Department, Warren Police Department and several other local police departments.
As the investigation is ongoing, Soriano has asked anyone with information to contact the Watchung Police Department at 908-756-3663, the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crimes Squad at 908-231-7100, or the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said Guevara was last seen at 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 26.