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Man Accused Of Four Murders In New Mexico Pleads Guilty To New Jersey Man's Beating Death
Sean Lannon allegedly confessed to killing his ex-wife, her new boyfriend, their alleged drug dealer and a delivery man to death and leaving their remains in a parking garage. He's now pleaded guilty to beating an old friend, Michael Dabkowski, to death in New Jersey thereafter.
A man eyed for at least four murders in New Mexico has pleaded guilty to a fifth murder in New Jersey.
Sean Lannon, 47, will serve 35 years behind bars for the 2021 murder of Michael Dabkowski, 66, who was beaten to death in his South Jersy home, according to NJ.com. The sentence comes as part of a plea deal with the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, which Lannon submitted before Superior Court Judge John Eastlack on Wednesday.
It will be 30 years before Lannon is eligible for parole in New Jersey. He's facing four more murder charges in New Mexico.
The investigation that culminated in Lannon's guilty plea began after the Feb. 1, 2021 disappearance of 21-year-old Matthew Miller from the small town of Grants, New Mexico — about 80 miles west of Albuquerque. Initially, New Mexico authorities thought Sean Lannon’s ex-wife, Jennifer Lannon, 39, and her alleged paramour, Jesten Mata, 40, might have had something to do with the disappearance of Miller, who was an alleged drug dealer they knew, according to NJ.com.
Sean and Jennifer Lennon had legally divorced in 2019, but reconciled later that year and returned to sharing a home in Grants with their three children, according to NJ.com. Friends and family told the outlet that the couple's drug habits, which included meth, heroin and prescription opioids, drove both their divorce and their reconciliation
But soon after Miller’s disappearance, investigators could not account for Jennifer Lannon or Mata’s whereabouts either. Jennifer Lannon's mother, Sharon Whitman, told investigators that Sean Lannon had started picking up her daughter's phone in December and that she had last heard from Jennifer on Jan. 9.
Police now believe that Sean Lannon killed her sometime around Jan. 17, 2021, and then lured Mata and Miller to the home in the subsequent weeks.
Lannon — who was staying at a friend's in Albuquerque with the children — was interviewed by investigators in Grants on Feb 12, 2021 and claimed that Jennifer and Mata were both drug users who had headed for Arizona to “score” drugs with Miller, per an arrest affidavit obtained by the Albuquerque Journal. He added that another acquaintance, Daniel Lemos, was violent and had the capacity to get rid of bodies, and the Grants police eventually announced Lemos was a suspect, according to NJ.com.
But Sean Lannon's story about Lemos turned out to be untrue, and then witnesses came forward accusing Sean Lannon of asking to borrow an electric saw. The witness, who also saw Lannon stash a gun and Jennifer's identification, told police that Lannon killed his ex-wife over her alleged affair with Mata, who was also a suspected drug dealer, according to the Journal and NJ.com.
Sean Lannon was arrested on Feb. 24 for allegedly assaulting a friend's daughter — who occasionally babysat the Lannon children — the prior fall. The office of the district attorney for New Mexico’s 13th Judicial District, however, felt there was not probable cause to charge him for the murders of Jennifer Lannon, Mata and Miller, according to NJ.com, and he was released on March 2.
On March 5, 2021, Albuquerque International Sunport airport security was alerted to the smell of decomposition from a pickup truck parked on the rooftop of the airport parking garage. In the bed of the vehicle were plastic bins containing the dismembered remains of Jennifer, Mata and Miller, all of whom had been shot to death.
The he pickup truck’s owner, 60-year-old Randall Apostalon, was beaten to death and found wrapped in a tarp in the front seat.
Lannon had boarded a flight for Philadelphia the previous day with his three children, per the affidavit and, from there, headed for South Jersey to visit first his mother and sister and then Jennifer Lannon's family. He ultimately left the children with his relatives, according to NJ.com, and, on March 7, went to visit Michael Dabkowski — who he'd referred to as a Big Brother — at Dabkowski's East Greenwich Township home, about 20 miles south of Philadelphia.
Michael Dabkowski was found beaten to death with a hammer on March 8; his wallet and SUV were missing.
U.S. Marshals arrested Lannon on March 10, after he was spotted driving Dabrowski’s vehicle in St. Louis.
Lannon allegedly confessed to bludgeoning Dabkowski, who had claimed had sexually abused him as a child and taken and kept pictures of the crime, according to NJ.com. Dabkowski's family and friends don't believe that, and police say that Lannon's claims were never substantiated.
He also allegedly told police that he killed his ex-wife, Mata and Miller, weaving a bizarre tale of justification.
He alleged claimed that, in late January 2021, he came home and found Jennifer and Mata having sex, and said that the pair allegedly “drugged” the children so they would sleep, according to the Journal and NJ.com. Mata left, he allegedly told investigators, and Jennifer allegedly “started freaking out” believing that the children were dead.
He claimed that Jennifer allegedly tried to take her own life by overdosing on heroin, but, when the drugs didn’t kill her, he shot her in the head with Mata's gun.
He also allegedly claimed to police that he'd planned to turn the gun on himself before hearing one of the children cry out, according to the Albuquerque outlet. Instead, he allegedly said, he put Jennifer's body and the bloody bedclothes in a large plastic storage tote and left it in the backyard.
Lannon said he lured Mata to the home about a week later and Miller a week after that.
Lannon said he killed Miller because Mata showed him photos of Miller and Lemos — the man Lannon told police he thought killed all three — of sexually abusing one of Lannon’s children.
“At this time, we don’t have any evidence to support any kind of child abuse or anything inappropriate with the children," Grants Police Det. Sgt. Robert Turney told NJ.com in April 2021.
The defendant allegedly admitted to dismembering and storing all three victims’ remains on his property and then at several storage locations in the following weeks, sometimes enlisting the help of others — who were reportedly unaware of the bins’ contents — to move them.
Lannon allegedly told authorities he paid Apostalon to use his truck and move the containers on Feb. 24 — just hours before his arrest on the unrelated battery charges — but beat him to death after the pair argued over money, according to NJ.com.
And, he allegedly told authorities that he was headed back to New Mexico to kill Lemos as well.
Lannon has since allegedly claimed to have also murdered 11 drug dealers in the Grants, New Mexico area, though police have found no evidence of that — and no bodies.
New Mexico authorities plan to serve Lannon with an arrest warrant and bring him back to New Mexico to face murder charges following the end of the New Jersey prosecution, according to NJ.com.
His sentencing for Dabrowski’s death is scheduled for Dec. 21.