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Seaside Heights Man Charged With Robbing, Killing Manchester Man in Drug Deal Gone Bad

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John T. Mullen Jr.

Authorities announced Monday that a Seaside Heights man, John T. Mullen Jr., has been charged with first degree murder in the slaying of Thomas J. Applegate, 33, of Manchester. He is also facing charges of first degree robbery, heroin possession and tampering with evidence.

According to a statement released by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office on Monday, Manchester Police responded to the Surf and Stream Campground on Sunday after receiving multiple 911 calls about a body lying in the entrance driveway to the campground. Upon arrival, Manchester patrol officers found the body of Applegate lying in the driveway of the campground with a wound in his chest. He was pronounced at the scene at approximately 6 p.m.

“Through our investigation, we have determined that this started out as a drug deal,” said Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer. “Mullen planned on stealing Xanax from the victim.  This robbery, however, turned into a murder.”

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The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office High Tech Crime Unit, Manchester Police Department and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office began a joint investigation immediately after responding to the call. Based on this investigation, Mullen was charged with the murder and robbery of Applegate.

“All of the involved agencies – OCPO’s Major Crime Unit and High Tech Crime Unit, Manchester Police and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Office – did a great job resolving this investigation expeditiously,” Billhimer added.

The investigation is being led by Detective Brant Uricks of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Detective Danny Barker of the Manchester Township Police Department, and Detective John Strodel of the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigation Unit.