Authorities are still investigating claims made by a man charged with a murder in New Jersey who has said he killed a total of 16 people in multiple states.
NEW YORK – Authorities are still investigating claims made by a man charged with a murder in New Jersey who said he killed a total of 16 people in multiple states, though a law enforcement official confirmed Sunday that he is the prime suspect in the murder. of his ex-wife and three other people found in a car in New Mexico.
Local law enforcement officers in New Mexico and New Jersey are working with federal agents on the veracity of Sean Lannon’s claims, including the fact that he killed 11 other people, the official said. The official, who had direct knowledge of the investigation, was unable to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Authorities said in court documents that Lannon, 47, made the admission in a phone call to a family member, who told investigators he expressed remorse.
Investigators are looking for missing person records and other police reports to try to identify potential victims and determine if he was telling the truth during the confession, according to the official. Investigators are still reviewing electronic records, communications, surveillance video and financial documents as part of the investigation and are working to try to locate additional witnesses in the case, the official said.
Law enforcement officials are also still trying to gather additional information to better understand why he was in St. Louis, where he was arrested on March 10.
The case began on March 5, when the bodies of Lannon’s ex-wife and three other people were found in a vehicle in a parking lot at Albuquerque International Sunport, New Mexico’s largest airport. It is not clear how they were killed. Police say three of them were reported missing in January from Grants, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of Albuquerque. The victims were identified as Jennifer Lannon, 39; Matthew Miller, 21 years old; Jesten Mata, 40; and Randal Apostalon, 60.
Albuquerque police spokesman Gilbert Gallegos Jr. said Sunday that of the four bodies found at the airport, one apparently died in Albuquerque “and that’s what our detectives are focusing on,” while the other three They appeared to have been killed in the Grants area. of Cibola County.
“Shortly after Mr. Lannon was arrested, our detectives went to St. Louis and interviewed him about the case,” he said. “Right now, we are still looking for evidence, doing search warrants and talking to a lot of people, but no one has been charged yet.”
On March 8, three days after the remains were found in New Mexico, Michael Dabkowski’s body was discovered in his New Jersey home, south of Philadelphia, after a wellness check. Lannon is charged with breaking in and beating the 66-year-old man to death with a hammer, according to an affidavit. Gloucester County prosecutors announced March 10 that Lannon was charged with multiple counts of murder, robbery, burglary, motor vehicle theft and weapons charges.
Prosecutors said during an arrest hearing on Friday that he said he killed the four whose remains were found in a vehicle and “11 other people,” NJ.com reported. Lannon has been charged solely with the death in New Jersey.
Chris Whitman, Jennifer Lannon’s brother, said Sean Lannon told the family in January that Jennifer had “run away” with some friends, possibly to Arizona, and Whitman told the AP on Saturday that the story didn’t sound right. because “she was a great mother and it would simply not be characteristic of her not to be with her children.”
Lannon told investigators that Dabkowski had sexually abused him as a child and that he had gone to the home to retrieve sexually explicit photos. Dabkowski mentored Lannon and his twin brother through a Big Brothers show in the 1980s, NJ.com reported.
Whitman said the family was unaware of the alleged abuse. In fact, she said she met Dabkowski at a Lannon children’s birthday party a couple of years ago, and everything seemed fine.
“I knew he was a close friend of Sean, just a close friend, and that he was a father figure,” Whitman said. “But outside of that, we didn’t know anything else.”