Cops searching in New Mexico's lava tubes for 11 victims of 'killer'

Police are searching in New Mexico’s lava tubes for 11 bodies of drug dealers ‘serial killer’ claimed he murdered after he was charged over the deaths of his ex-wife and three men

  • Sean Lannon, 47, faces charges of first-degree murder in connection with killings of four people; he confessed to fifth murder but has yet to be charged
  • Lannon is accused of shooting dead ex-wife Jennifer, 39, Matthew Miller, 21, Jesten Mata, 40, and his former mentor Michael Dabkowski, 66
  • He is also suspected of killing Randall Apostalon, 60, in New Mexico
  • Police in New Mexico are searching lava tubes near Grants for bodies of 11 drug dealers Lannon claimed he had killed
  • So far, investigators have not found evidence that Lannon had committed the additional murders   

Sean Lannon, 47, faces charges of first-degree murder in connection with the killings of four people in two states

Police in New Mexico are scouring lava tubes near a small town in search of 11 bodies of victims whom a suspected serial killer claimed he murdered.

Sean Lannon, 47, has confessed to killing five people, including his ex-wife, her boyfriend, and the suspect’s former mentor whom he accused of molesting him as a child, and claimed that he had been planning to kill a sixth person when he was caught.

So far, he has been charged with counts of first-degree murder stemming from the deaths of Jennifer Lannon, 39, Matthew Miller, 21, and Jesten Mata, 40, of Grants, New Mexico, and Michael Dabkowski, 66, of New Jersey. 

He is also suspected of killing Randall Apostalon, 60, of Albuquerque, but he has yet to be formally charged with his killing. 

Following his arrest last month, Lannon also claimed that he had killed an additional 11 people, all of them drug dealers, in the area of Grants, New Mexico, reported NJ.com.


Lannon is suspected of shooting dead his ex-wife, Jennifer Lannon (left), and her boyfriend, Jesten Mata (right), in Grants, New Mexico, last month 

Prosecutors said in court that Lannon told a family member in a phone call that he had dumped the bodies of his supposed victims at an oil refinery in Jamestown where he had worked, and inside lava tubes located near the town of Grants.

The relative told investigators he expressed remorse for his actions.  

Lava tubes are cave-like underground passageways, also known as pyroducts, which were created by lava flows thousands of years ago, when the area around Grants was a hotbed of volcanic activity.

Police in Grants, New Mexico, are searching lava tubes for the bodies of 11 drug dealers that Lannon claimed he had killed. Pictured: lava fields at the El Malpais National Monument in New Mexico 

Lt. David Chavez, of the Grants Police Department, said investigators have yet to find any evidence of the additional murders, but they are looking into it by combing through missing persons records and other police reports to try to identify any potential victims and determine if Lannon was telling the truth during the confession.

The twisted case spanning multiple states began unfolding on March 5, when the bodies of Lannon’s ex-wife and three other people were found in a vehicle in a parking garage at Albuquerque International Sunport. 

Police say three of them were reported missing in January from Grants, about 80 miles west of Albuquerque. 

Three days later, the body of Michael Dabkowski was discovered in his New Jersey home, just south of Philadelphia, after a welfare check. Lannon is accused of breaking in and beating the 66-year-old to death with a hammer, according to an affidavit.


Lannon has reportedly confessed to the killings of Matthew Miller (left) and Randall Apostalon (right), but he has yet to be formally charged in connection with the latter’s death 

Four bodies were found in a car at the Albuquerque airport on March 5 (pictured)

Lannon was arrested on March 10 in St Louis, Missouri, but police still do not know what he was doing there. 

Lannon was charged with first-degree murder and tampering with evidence in three of the killings, as well as kidnapping to inflict death in relation to two of the victims.

Authorities have said Jennifer Lannon, Miller and Mata were friends, and Apostalon lived out of his car and was known to give rides for money. 

According to court records, Lannon told investigators that he shot his ex-wife dead after finding her having sex with Mata, reported Philadelphia Inquirer. 

He later allegedly lured Mata back to his and Jennifer’s house in Grants and shot him, too. 

A few days later, Lannon claimed he killed Miller after seeing a sexually explicit photograph of him with one of Lannon’s three young children.

Lannon is accused of bludgeoning to death Michael Dabkowski, 66, his former mentor, claiming he had molested him as a child 

Pictured: The New Jersey home where Dabkowski was killed with a hammer in March 

He told police that he killed Apostalon after storing the bodies of the three victims in his car.  

He then allegedly traveled to New Jersey, where he broke into Dabkowski’s home and beat him to death with a hammer. He then allegedly stole the victim’s car and wallet, and fled to St Louis.

Lannon remains in custody in New Jersey on charges stemming from Dabkowski’s killing, which include first-degree murder, burglary, robbery, and theft. 

Chris Whitman, Jennifer Lannon’s brother, said that Sean told the family in January that Jennifer had ‘run off’ with some friends, possibly to Arizona, and Whitman told the AP that the story didn’t sound right because ‘she was a great mom and, just, it would be uncharacteristic of her to not be with her children.’

Lannon told investigators that Dabkowski had sexually abused him as a 14-year-old and that he had gone to the home to retrieve sexually explicit photos. Dabkowski mentored Lannon and his twin brother through a Big Brothers program in the 1980s, NJ.com reported.

Whitman said the family did not know of the alleged abuse. In fact, he said he met Dabkowski at the birthday party of one of the Lannon children a couple of years ago, and all seemed fine.

‘I knew he was a close, just a close friend to Sean, and that he was a father figure,’ Whitman said. ‘But outside of that, we knew nothing else.’

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