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Former N.J. Police Officer Pleads Guilty

October 9, 2003

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) _ A retired police officer pleaded guilty to murder Thursday for a shooting spree in which he walked house to house, killing his granddaughter and three other people.

In a deal with authorities, John W. Mabie pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder and dropped his defense claiming diminished capacity, Assistant Ocean County Prosecutor Robert Gasser said.

In return, prosecutors will drop a weapons charge and recommend a 30-year term at sentencing next month, Gasser said.

Authorities said Mabie locked his wife in his basement on Feb. 21, 2002, and walked out of his home with a .38-caliber revolver.

Then 70, Mabie walked down the street to his mother-in-law’s house, where he shot and killed 22-year-old Natalie Gingerelli, said to be his favorite granddaughter.

He left the house, walked to a nearby home and fatally shot Sue Keiran, 42.

Mabie then went to another home and shot Thomas Luyster, 27. The body of Luyster’s fiancee, Suzanne Lavecchia, 27, was found on the lawn in front of the house. The couple had been planning a June 2002 wedding.

Acquaintances have said Mabie, who retired from the Newark police on disability in 1976, never got over a 1971 accident in which he struck and killed an 11-year-old boy in a go-cart.

Mabie’s was the first of two deadly Toms River shooting sprees, both allegedly by lawmen. On April 9, 2002, Seaside Heights police Officer Edward Lutes Jr. fatally shot five neighbors before he wounded his boss and committed suicide in a stranger’s driveway.

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