Friends of a Morris County man whose body was found hanged in a park last weekend are seeking justice.
Morris County authorities said Friday they'd found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing to this point in the hanging park death of a 20-year-old Amani Kildea, of Long Valley. His death had been ruled a suicide.
A Change.org petition called "Justice for Amani Kildea" launched by Taylor Packwood, however, had garnered more than 31,000 signatures as of Friday afternoon.
"His death, without investigation, was ruled a suicide," the petition says.
"Amani was found an hour away from where he lives. His death doesn’t make any sense and I am asking you to sign this petition to bring to light the racial injustices black men face every day."
Born in Ethiopia, Kildea was adopted by the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Roxbury, and his wife.
Kildea was active in bringing child predators to justice in his community, according to the petition. A graduate of West Morris Central High School, he dreamt of being in the FBI or CIA.
Kildea recently finished training as a Military Policeman in the Army Reserves and was set to attend James Madison University in the fall.
Morris County Prosecutor Fredric Knapp said he wanted to dispel social media gossip about the man's hanging death. His death had been ruled a suicide after his body was found by a patron in Lewis Morris Park last Sunday.
"You cannot physically hang yourself from a tree," the petition reads. "No ladder, no nothing. Let’s reopen this case and get more answers. His life matters."
Knapp maintained the manner of Kildea's death was released to provide transparency on the investigation.
"As of this time, no evidence of a criminal act has yet been found, however, our efforts to determine what occurred remain very active," Knapp said.
"We have followed and continue to follow all investigative leads and will go where the evidence takes us."
“The Morris County Prosecutor’s Office is committed to the thorough, appropriate, professional and prompt investigation of any suspicious and/or unnatural deaths," he said.
"We are guided by the Medical Examiner’s findings, however, that does not mean that our investigation has concluded.”
Kildea was being remembered as a beautiful young man and activist.
“Everyone who met him, who knew him, young and old, admired him and loved him," his father, the Rev. Tom Kildea, said in a tribute.
"He doubted that, but we knew it to be true."
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