They talked about Michael Dabkowski’s “kind soul” and his willingness to help others on Wednesday morning.
Moreover, they shared their sorrow over his untimely death in March 2021 at the hands of a guy who had been a childhood mentor to Dabkowski.
On Wednesday, Sean M. Lannon was given a 35-year prison term for the beating death of Dabkowski in his Gloucester County home. Lannon was previously convicted of five murders in New Mexico and New Jersey in 2017.
On March 8, 2021, Lannon, 48, allegedly robbed Dabkowski of his wallet and SUV after repeatedly hitting him over the head with a hammer. After two days, he was tracked down in St. Louis driving around in the stolen car.
In October, He Entered a Guilty Plea to Murder Charges
Lannon is still being held on murder charges in New Mexico, where he is accused of killing his estranged wife and three others before coming to New Jersey and murdering Dabkowski, 66, in East Greenwich Township.
Dabkowski served as a mentor to Lannon and his twin brother Eric in the 1980s as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. Elaine King, Dabkowski’s sister, testified of the impact God had on her brother’s life.
“He did everything he possibly could do for the church, for individuals, for anyone that needed it,” she added.
She talked about how many people she met in Massachusetts, where he grew up, and in South Jersey, where he had moved following his death, and how they all offered their condolences and support.
She explained that “neighbour after neighbour came out and told me what a lovely person he was.”
Uncle Mike was a pivotal character in the life of Danielle Genest Konicheva, who fondly recalled him. She claimed that he frequently sent cash to relatives for various occasions, including celebrations and financial hardships.
“He made all of our family events so much fun for the kids and was always helping everyone,” she gushed. “He was really, honestly nice.”
When Konicheva was older, she found out from her mother that her uncle had passed away, which she described as a bizarre experience.
I could tell by the look of horror on her face that something terrible had happened, and she continued. On every level, it was a tragedy. Retirement preparations were being discussed between her mother and uncle.
In a tearful voice, Konicheva expressed her anger that her sister had been deprived of her brother and the many experiences they could have enjoyed together. It’s practically intolerable to be here in front of the source of so much tragedy right now.
Lannon Remained Expressionless as He Listened to Dabkowski’s Relatives
He said to police had gone to the house to get images of the abuse after claiming Dabkowski had abused him when he was a child.
The accusation was never proven in court, although Lannon made a passing reference to it during his Wednesday allotted time to address the judge and jury.
Lannon read an apology from handwritten notes in which he acknowledged the pain he had caused but attempted to deflect responsibility.
“Michael was like a father to me for a long time,” he said. “Unfortunately, every coin has two faces. Today is not the day to dredge up someone’s past, but the truth is that a man with such a tendency for generosity had other ambitions.
I deeply regret what I did to Michael Dabkowski, and I want to express my deepest condolences to his loved ones. However, I can’t apologize to Michael personally for what I did, as he owed me money. I cannot stand here and apologize for what I did to Michael, but I am sorry for the hurt I have caused you and your family.
In this case, Lannon pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Under the terms of the plea deal, the New Jersey charges of burglary, theft, and unlawful possession of a weapon against him were dropped. He will not be considered for parole until he has served 30 years. He was given credit for 651 days of service.
Lannon met his future wife, Jennifer Whitman, while he was a child, and they eventually settled down in New Jersey. After having three children, the couple finally found work in New Mexico and moved there.
Authorities claim Lannon murdered Whitman in their Grants, New Mexico, home in early 2021, concealed her body in a storage container, and then murdered Jesten Mata, 40, and Matthew Miller, 21.
According to the court documents, he gave several different explanations for the murders, including that he had found his divorced wife with Mata and that Mata had given him distressing cellphone photographs of Miller.
Authorities say he enticed Mata and Miller to the house on separate dates, murdered them, mutilated their bodies, and stored the remains in shipping containers.
Lannon has been charged with the murder of 60-year-old Randall Apostalon while searching for a storage facility for the bodies he had relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
When they were unable to find a place to store the crates, Apostalon allegedly urged Lannon to take them out of the truck. The New Mexico authorities claim that Apostalon was unaware of what was in the crates.
The Man Claims that Lannon Repeatedly Hit Him With A Hammer
On March 5, authorities in Albuquerque discovered the truck he was accused of stealing from Apostalon in a parking garage near the airport.
The bodies of the Grants victims were in crates in the truck’s bed, and Apostalon’s was in the front passenger seat, under a tarp.
Airport security film review revealed Lannon took off for Philadelphia the day before with his three children.
Prosecutors in New Jersey claim that after dropping his kids off with relatives, Lannon departed the state on his own. Lannon murdered Dabkowski a day after he broke into a lakeside cabin in Elk Township.
Prosecutors claim that Lannon entered a different residence in the Lake Garrison community on March 7 and was loitering around the area the following morning, even though Dabkowski owned a cabin there.
After that, he used rideshare to get to Dabkowski’s house in East Greenwich, which was about 15 miles away.
On Wednesday, Dabkowski’s niece Alicia Hamblen was the third member of his family to speak. She described him as “our wonderful uncle,” who would take the kids to the park, give the finest presents, and make their time together an experience.
He didn’t have his own family, “which he certainly would have wanted to have,” Hamblen said, “but he made it his life’s job to give to others, often when they needed it the most.”
Reflecting on her uncle’s final days, she spoke with emotion as she recalled how he felt everyone deserved forgiveness and a second opportunity.
According to Hamblen, the victim “really believed there was no possibility that this boy he had known practically his whole life could do such a dreadful thing” until his dying breath when he looked this man in the eye and comprehended what he was going to do.
Knowing that Her Uncle Is Finally at Rest Brings Her Some Solace
And now, as an angel in paradise, he may keep watch over us, knowing that he was welcomed with open arms by his God.
After Lannon serves out his sentence in New Jersey, prosecutors there have stated their intent to pursue criminal charges against him.
In October, J. Michael Thomas, the deputy district attorney for the New Mexico jurisdiction that covers Grants, stated that he expected Lannon to be extradited to that state, where he would meet with Lannon’s attorneys to discuss possible plea deals before deciding whether or not the cases would go to trial.
The two districts in New Mexico where the murders took place will each be responsible for the case.
When Lannon is sentenced in New Jersey, the district attorney’s office there will also seek his extradition, according to a spokesman for that office.