MANCHESTER — A drug deal took a turn and led to murder at an Ocean County campground on Sunday, according to Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer.

Police responded to calls about a body lying at the entrance to the Surf and Stream campground on Route 571 in Manchester with a wound in the chest, according to Billhimer. The man, identified as Thomas J. Applegate, 33, of Manchester was pronounced dead around 6 p.m., Billhimer said.

John T. Mullen, 50, of Seaside Heights was charged with first-degree murder in Applegate's death. Billhimer said Mullen planned to steal Xanax from Applegate but "this robbery turned into a murder," Billhimer said.

Mullen was also charged with first-degree robbery as well as possession of heroin and fourth-degree tampering with physical evidence.

Billhimer did not disclose how Mullen was killed or the circumstances of his death and did immediately return a message on Monday afternoon.

Sign at the Surf & Stream campground
Sign at the Surf & Stream campground (Ocean County Scanner News)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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