ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. >> A man accused in the beating death of a New Jersey resident he claimed sexually abused him as a child was charged today with killing his ex-wife and two others in New Mexico in what investigators call a complicated case spanning multiple states.
The new charges follow numerous interviews and searches of storage units, sheds and a home where Sean Lannon, his ex-wife and their three children lived in the city of Grants, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of Albuquerque.
The remains of Jennifer Lannon, two of her friends and an Albuquerque man were found earlier this month inside a vehicle at a parking garage at the Albuquerque airport about a month after they were reported missing. Charges in the death of the Albuquerque man have yet to be filed.
Authorities also have been looking into Sean Lannon’s claims that he killed 11 other people in New Mexico, but police have said there were no records of people missing from the area or other police reports that would indicate there are potential victims.
Authorities said in court documents that Lannon, 47, admitted to the additional killings in a phone call to a relative.
An arrest warrant affidavit filed Friday details a case that began in late January when Lannon found his ex-wife, 39, and Jesten Mata, 40, together at home. He told investigators that the pair, were having an affair and had given the children drugs to get them to sleep. He said Jennifer began to freak out when she thought they might be dead.
Lannon told investigators that after Mata left, Jennifer tried to overdose on heroin. She still had a pulse so he shot her in the head, according to the affidavit. He said he planned to kill himself but then heard one of the children cry out and put the gun away.
It would be a week before he could lure Mata back to the home and kill him, he told investigators, and another week went by before Miller came over and was also shot. Lannon accused Miller of selling drugs to his ex-wife and Mata.
The court records alleged that Lannon tried to hide the killings by telling police and others that the three friends had run off with a bag full of drugs. The affidavit says Lannon used plastic containers to conceal the bodies and that friends unknowingly help him move the containers along with his other belongings to Albuquerque in mid-February.
Lannon said he used handsaws and knives to dismember the bodies of Miller and Mata to put them into the containers. Court records also say that carpeting and flooring had been removed from the Lannons’ home in Grants.
Lannon is in custody in New Jersey on charges stemming from the death of Michael Dabkowski there.
Lannon is accused of breaking in to the 66-year-old’s New Jersey home, just south of Philadelphia, and beating him to death with a hammer, according to an affidavit. 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.
Prosecutors are investigating the sex abuse claim and more.
“There are a lot of aspects to the investigation that we’re still following up on,” said Thomas Gilbert, chief of detectives for the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. “We’re conducting a full and thorough investigation and everything that connects to it.”
Dabkowski’s body was discovered March 8, three days after the remains were found in New Mexico. Lannon was driving Dabkowski’s car when he arrested March 10 in St. Louis. Authorities are not sure why he was in Missouri.
Assistant deputy public defender Ronald Appleby has declined to comment on the New Jersey charges. A court hearing in that case is scheduled for April 8.
Sean and Jennifer Lannon lived in New Jersey before moving to New Mexico a few years ago — before he filed for divorce.
Court records related to the couple’s divorce and custody case showed that Sean Lannon was awarded sole custody of the couple’s three children in 2019 and that a protective plan from the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department included only supervised visitation by their mother over concerns about the potential for neglect due to prescription drug abuse.
Relatives say Sean Lannon flew to New Jersey in early March with the couple’s three children — 6- and 7-year-old girls and a 4-year-old boy. He dropped them off with relatives, claiming he was going back to look for his ex-wife. Her family already was worried, saying it wasn’t like her to be without her children.
The other man slain in New Mexico was Randal Apostalon, 60, of Albuquerque. Lannon told investigators that he killed him Feb. 24 after he asked for more money to help him move the containers.
Authorities have said Apostalon was known to give rides for money. The remains of the four victims were found in Apostalon’s pickup truck.