HOWELL — Prosecutors say a 33-year-old Lakewood man was killed and left on a tree-lined road early Friday morning.

While authorities identified the homicide victim as Domingo Merino Rafael, they have released no details about how he was killed or who they believe may have killed him.

Police responded to a 911 call about 3:46 a.m. reporting a body on Hurley Pond Road just east of Route 547.

Officers initially believed that the man, who prosecutors said was "obviously deceased," had been the victim of a hit and run. But they quickly ruled that out, although officials have not said why.

NBC New York, citing law enforcement sources and a witness they did not name, reported that it appeared the man tried to escape and had his face hacked. Prosecutors have not publicly confirmed this report.

The body was taken to Newark Beth Israel Hospital, where Rafael was pronounced dead at 4:12 a.m.

Authorities said Friday that there was no danger to the public, indicating that the victim was the intended target of the slaying.

The Middlesex County Regional Medical Examiner’s Office on Saturday confirmed that Rafael was the victim of a homicide.

Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said that there was no connection between the homicide in Howell and the police-involved shooting in neighboring Farmingdale, where Howell police shot and killed a man officials said was armed with a knife and refusing police commands. Police had responded to the Farmingdale home Friday night at 10:30 after receiving a 911 call from a person who said he had been gravely wounded by his brother.

The man shot by police died and the incident is being investigated by the state Attorney General's Office.

Monmouth prosecutors ask anyone with information about the Hurley Pond Road homicide to call Detective Kevin Condon of the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office at 800-533-7443 or Detective Sgt. Peter Kuppler of the Howell Township Police Department at 732-938-4575 ext. 2245.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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