Grisly details emerge in Sunport bodies case

Matthew Reisen, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
·7 min read

Mar. 27—Sean Lannon told authorities that in late January he came home to find his ex-wife in bed with another man and the couple's three children drugged in another room. Lannon said the man left and his ex-wife tried to overdose when the kids wouldn't wake up.

When she didn't succeed, Lannon told police, he shot her in the head and was about to turn the gun on himself when he heard one of the children cry out. He said he put his ex-wife's body in a plastic bin in the backyard and over the next two weeks lured the man she was sleeping with and another friend of his ex-wife's to the house — killing both of them.

Lannon, 47, told police he dismembered the men in the garage and put their bodies in plastic bins in the backyard. He said he later killed Randall Apostalon, 60, in Albuquerque after he hired Apostalon to transport the plastic bins with the bodies to a storage shed.

Those are among the new details to emerge in a police affidavit filed Friday.

The bodies of Jennifer Lannon, 39; Matthew Miller, 21; Jesten Mata, 40; and Apostalon were found March 5 in Apostalon's pickup truck on the top level of a parking garage at Albuquerque International Sunport.

On Friday, the Grants Police Department charged Sean Lannon with three open counts of murder, two counts of kidnapping and 14 counts of tampering with evidence in the deaths of his ex-wife, Miller and Mata. Lannon has yet to be charged in the death of Apostalon. That case is being investigated by Albuquerque police.

Police follow trails

Lannon is currently jailed in New Jersey after he allegedly killed a man there once he had fled New Mexico with his three children. Authorities say he dropped his children off with his ex-wife's family and two days later, on March 9, beat 66-year-old Michael Dabkowski to death at a home in East Greenwich.

During a detention hearing in New Jersey last week, prosecutors revealed that Sean Lannon had also admitted to killing 11 "drug dealers" around Grants. Grants Police Lt. David Chavez has said that while the claim is possible, he doesn't think it's probable given that there are no other recent missing persons cases or homicides his department is aware of. Nevertheless, Chavez said, the department is looking into the claim.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Cibola County Magistrate Court:

The case began with the disappearance of Miller on Feb. 1. His truck was found days later abandoned in Grants near the Lannon home. Around this time, relatives told police they had not heard from Jennifer Lannon since Jan. 9. She would typically call every few weeks.

The family said Jennifer Lannon had struggled with drug abuse, the couple had been fighting and her ex-husband had recently mentioned she'd been having an affair with Mata.

On Feb. 10, Sean Lannon told police his ex-wife had run off with Mata to Arizona "to score" and they were probably with Miller. Lannon said he had recently moved out of the home in Grants and he and the three kids were staying with a friend in Albuquerque.

A day later, a man told police Sean Lannon had killed the three because Mata was having an affair with his ex-wife. The man said Sean Lannon had been asking people to borrow an electric saw and he had recently seen Lannon give a gun to Daniel Lemos.

Police searched the Lannon home and found carpet ripped up in places and mattresses removed from the home. On Feb. 24, Sean Lannon was arrested in Albuquerque on a warrant for an unrelated assault and battery charge from October and he was taken to Grants for questioning. He was released about a week later.

Sean Lannon told Grants police he had borrowed Miller's truck and left it where it was found abandoned. He said his ex-wife and Mata were having an affair but denied killing anyone.

Lannon said he was taking the kids to New Jersey to stay with relatives until he could get a place in Albuquerque and he believed his ex-wife was alive and would show up "when she needs money."

Sean Lannon told police he had borrowed a gun from Mata and later gave it to Lemos, who he said was "a very violent person" and "capable of getting rid of bodies by feeding them to his pig."

"Lannon was deceptive during the interview and attempted to direct the investigation toward Danny Lemos and away from himself," a detective wrote.

A woman who picked up Lannon in Grants after he was released from jail told police he had mentioned that there was a "manhunt" for Daniel Lemos in the disappearances and "was laughing about it."

Bodies discovered

On March 5, the bodies of Jennifer Lannon, Miller, Mata and Apostalon were discovered in the back of Apostalon's truck at the Sunport. Apostalon had been beaten to death and the others had been shot and placed in plastic bins along with clothing, tools and other belongings.

Two men told police they helped Sean Lannon move plastic bins from Grants to Albuquerque on Feb. 17 but had no idea what was inside as Lannon would not let them touch the containers.

Afterward, police identified three separate women who allowed Lannon to store things in their storage sheds around Albuquerque.

One woman who Lannon and his children stayed with in Albuquerque said he had asked to store things in her shed in February and showed up to her house "all bleached out."

She said he was covered in bleach from the waist down and his hands were blistered and cut from cleaning something so vigorously. The woman told police Lannon had said he had to clean up after "someone had died" at the home in Grants.

The woman said Lannon was often armed with a gun when he was staying with her and she found a bullet in the couch where he had been sleeping with the children. She told police Lannon was into some "weird (expletive)," was using methamphetamine, left the kids with her often and talked badly about his ex-wife "all the time."

At one point, the woman said she became scared of Lannon and began staying in her daughter's room at night with the door locked.

Macabre interview

After U.S. Marshals arrested Lannon in St. Louis, Missouri, detectives from Grants and Albuquerque traveled there to interview him.

Lannon told police he caught his ex-wife and Mata having sex at their home and the pair had "drugged" the kids to sleep. He said Mata left and Jennifer Lannon "started freaking out" because they thought the kids were dead.

Lannon told the detectives Jennifer Lannon tried to overdose on heroin because "she couldn't live without the kids." He said when he discovered she still had a pulse he shot her in the head and was about to kill himself when he heard one of the children "cry out."

He put his ex-wife's body in a container in the backyard, he told police, and used her phone to lure Mata to the home a week later. He said he shot Mata in the back of the head and said Mata had previously shown him "sexually explicit" photos of one of Lannon's young relatives with Miller and Lemos.

Lannon said it "took him another week" to lure Miller to the home and he shot him in the garage and then began beating him "to stop his gurgling sounds."

He dismembered Miller and Mata in the garage using handsaws, put them in containers and left them in the backyard, Lannon told detectives. He said he cleaned up the house and stored the containers in various storage sheds in Grants and Albuquerque.

Lannon told police he killed Apostalon the same day he was arrested by Albuquerque police and taken to Grants for questioning. He said he hired Apostalon to move the containers to another storage unit and, when Apostalon asked for more money and "was going to make him take the containers" out of his truck, he killed him.

Lannon said he was on his way back to New Mexico to kill Lemos when he was found in St. Louis.