MANCHESTER – Following a heavy police presence around the Surf and Stream Campground over the weekend, police have arrested a Seaside Heights man in connection to a murder at the camp site.
On Oct. 21, John T. Mullen, 50, was arrested and charged with First Degree Murder in the death of 33-year old Thomas J. Applegate of Manchester. Mullen was also charged with First Degree Robbery, Third Degree Possession of Heroin and Fourth Degree Tampering with Physical Evidence.
On Oct. 20, Manchester Police responded to Surf and Stream Campground on Route 571 for reports of a body lying in the entrance driveway to the campground. Upon arrival, officers discovered Applegate’s body lying in the driveway of the campground with a wound in his chest. Applegate was pronounced at the scene by Dr. Gildan of Newark Beth Israel Hospital at approximately 6 p.m.
“Through our investigation, we have determined that this started out as a drug deal. Mullen planned on stealing Xanax from the victim. This robbery, however, turned into a murder,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “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.”
The investigation is ongoing, 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.
This isn’t Mullen’s first brush with the law. He was recently imprisoned in December 2016 for forgery, fencing and shoplifting, according to the New Jersey Department of Corrections. He was released in May.