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ARREST IN LAKEWOOD MURDER

Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato and Lakewood Police Chief Robert Lawson today announced the arrest of Merrill Spencer, 34, of Lakewood for the murder of Johntel Thomas, 23, also of Lakewood.

On Monday (6/13), a 911 call was placed at approximately 6:32 am by a male individual advising that he saw what appeared to be a black male unconscious lying on the sidewalk in the area of Martin Luther King Blvd and Alder St. in Lakewood. Members of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, the Lakewood Police Department, OCPO High Tech Crime Unit, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Department Crime Scene Investigations Unit all responded. The investigating Detectives found the decedent had suffered a gunshot wound to his left rib area. The Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office responded and pronounced the decedent. The scene was isolated and everything of evidentiary value was secured.

The partnering agencies conducted a canvas of the area to locate witnesses. Additionally, investigating detectives watched surveillance footage from various surveillance systems in the area. These and other investigative measures quickly developed information leading detectives to Merrill Spencer and a Lakewood residence he was known to frequent. OCPO and Lakewood detectives kept watch at the suspect’s location while a search warrant was obtained for the residence, authorized by the Honorable Judge Wendel E. Daniels, P.J.Cr.P.

Supervising Assistant Prosecutor William Porter reviewed the case investigation and approved the search warrant application and the charges of Murder, Unlawful Possession of a Weapon, and Possession of a Weapon for an Unlawful Purpose.   The Honorable Judge Wendel E. Daniels approved the arrest affidavit, along with complaints, and set bail at 1,000,000 cash.

At approximately 10:30 pm on 6/13, Spencer was apprehended at 106 Martin Luther King Blvd without incident, processed at Lakewood PD and transported to the Ocean County Jail in default of bail.

The media and the public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The media and the public are reminded that criminal charges are merely accusations and that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Merrill C. SpencerMERRILL CLINTON SPENCER

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