FREEHOLDLaw enforcement officials are looking for anyone with information regarding who may have been responsible for the 1996 death of a Neptune City business owner to come forward, Monmouth County Prosecutor Raymond S. Santiago urged Thursday.

Shortly before 10:00 a.m. on Friday, March 22, 1996, 35-year-old Tinton Falls resident Smita Amin Patel was murdered inside her place of business, the Little Brown Jug. This business is a convenience/grocery store located at 2040 Highway 33, Neptune City in the Gables shopping center, diagonally across the street from Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

The investigation revealed that the victim and her husband were co-owners of the convenience store. Patel was working alone in the store when she was attacked. The attack took place between approximately 9:50 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. The victim was discovered by a customer, and an investigation was launched immediately.

The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Neptune City Police Department are urging anyone who was in the Gables shopping center on the date and time in question who may have seen anything that could be relevant to this investigation to please come forward.

“We are calling upon the citizens of our community to help provide justice for a grieving husband who lost his wife and business partner, along with family and friends who lost a loved one, with no closure or answers for 28 years now,” Prosecutor Santiago urged. “Detectives from my Office, along with the Neptune City Police Department, refuse to allow this case to remain unsolved. It is our sincere hope that their efforts motivate anyone with information regarding who may be responsible for this senseless death to come forward with any details they may have.”

“This was an unspeakable tragedy that claimed the life of a Neptune City business owner, and it is imperative that we remind Mrs. Patel’s loved ones that she has not been forgotten,” Neptune City Police Chief Matthew J. Quagliato stated. “Just because a case is considered cold does not mean that we consider it hopeless. Every victim deserves justice.”

Anyone with information regarding this matter is urged to contact the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Detective Sergeant Christopher Guy at 800-533-7443 or Neptune City Detective James VanEtten at 732-455-0117.

Anyone who feels the need to remain anonymous but has information about a crime can submit a tip to Monmouth County Crime Stoppers by calling their confidential telephone tip-line at 1-800-671-4400; by downloading and using the free P3 Tips mobile app (available on iOS and Android –; by calling 800-671-4400; or by going to the website at