A Seaside Heights man has pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and is expected to receive a 30 year prison term, prosecutors said Wednesday.
John T. Mullen Jr., 51, had been accused of killing Thomas J. Applegate, 34, of Manchester, in Oct. 2019. According to prosecutors, police were called on that day to the Surf and Stream Campground in Manchester after receiving multiple 911 calls about a body lying in the entrance driveway to the campground. The officers found Applegate on the ground suffering from a chest wound. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
A joint investigation by 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 Crime Scene Investigation Unit determined that Mullen stabbed Applegate during the course of a drug deal, which ultimately resulted in his death, a statement from the prosecutor’s office said.
“Through good old-fashioned police work, these law enforcement agencies – acting together – expeditiously solved this heinous crime and identified Mullen as the individual responsible for Mr. Applegate’s death,” Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said. ““As a result of their tremendous teamwork, for which I am extremely grateful, this dangerous man was swiftly apprehended, and will now be required to answer for his crime with a lengthy state prison sentence. Justice for Mr. Applegate and his family will be served.”
At the time of his sentencing on Nov. 30, 2020, the state will be seeking a sentence of 30 years in New Jersey state prison, subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, which requires offenders to serve 85 percent of their sentences before being eligible for parole.