Cops: Duo dumped teen’s body in the woods, but her death is a mystery
State Police have arrested two men they said left a dead teenager in the woods of Alloway Township — but how 19-year-old Danyelle Minerva died remains a mystery.
Tree service workers discovered Minerva's body in a wooded area along Woodstown-Alloway Road Jan. 11, authorities said. She had been reported missing by family members last October.
Authorities put out public pleas at the time asking for anyone with information on her death to come forward. But even as they announced on Friday the arrests of Jose Sosa-Ayala, 40, and Jose Felix-Sosa, 45, both of Bridgeton, State Police said the cause of death has yet to be determined, and there were no obvious signs of physical trauma on Minerva's body. The two men were arrested Thursday.
Police didn't say how the two were tied to the investigation into Minerva's death, only that "through various investigative means, State Police detectives, working with the Salem County Prosecutor’s Office, were able to develop" the two as suspects.
They said that in October, Sosa-Ayala brought Minerva's to his residence. During her stay, she died, police said.
When Sosa-Ayala and Felix Sosa later discovered she was dead, they carried her out of the house, placed her body in Sosa-Ayala's 2005 Toyota Tundra, and left her in the wooded area, police said.
Sosa-Ayala and Felix-Sosa were charged with conspiracy, desecration of human remains, and endangering the welfare of a victim. Both were lodged at the Salem County Jail in lieu of bail —$600,000 for Sosa-Ayala and $500,000 for Felix-Sosa, both without a 10 percent option.
According to an online fundraiser created to help her family pay for funeral expenses, Minerva lost her father at a young age, and her mother about a year ago.
She "was a beautiful intelligent young women who was taken from her brother Dan way too soon," the fundraiser, started by Darielle Bondiskey, said. Bondiskey is reportedly brother Dan Minerva's girlfriend.
"Along with losing both parents by the age of 19 ... she also lost her home she grew up in. Everything was swept right from under her," Bondiskey wrote on the fundraiser page. "Danyelle was fighting many battles. Unfortunately she isn't here with us today."
Nearly 1,500 people have joined a Facebook group dedicated to finding answers in Minerva's death.
"This is Danyelle's aunt. This message is for the younger generation," a message posted to the page last month, after Minerva's body was discovered, reads. "You need to realize there is good and evil in this world. The future is yours but only you can make that future your destiny. Go to college make a difference in the world. Danyelle would have but someone took that away from her. Listen to your parents — you may not like what they have to say but remember ... thru your life you won't agree w(ith) others. Life is challenging but you can do it!"
Authorities have been asking asking anyone with information to contact the New Jersey State Police Major Crime Unit’s Detective Sergeant Glen Garrels at 609-882-2000 ext. 3355 or Woodstown Station at 856-769-0775. Anonymous tips are welcome, police have said.