A 63-year-old South Jersey man was arrested Thursday on murder and related charges in the death of a man who was reported missing in Deptford Township four years ago.
Michael Zappley, of Westville, was also charged with desecration of remains and tampering with evidence in the death of Miguel Martinez III, 30, of Deptford, the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Martinez had been reported missing June 15, 2016, to Deptford police. Through an investigation, police, the Prosecutor’s Office, and other law enforcement agencies determined that he was allegedly murdered that month at the former A & J Auto Body on Delsea Drive in Deptford.
Early last month, the Prosecutor’s Office said, search warrants were executed in Deptford, including in a wooded area adjacent to Fox Run Road, where Martinez’s remains were recovered.
Zappley, who is being held at the Salem County Correctional Facility, confessed Wednesday to killing Martinez at the auto-body shop and to “his participation in the removal, desecration, and concealment of Martinez’s body,” the office said.
Thomas Gilbert, public information officer for the Prosecutor’s Office, declined to comment on a possible motive in the slaying. He said the murder is still being investigated and asked tipsters to contact his office’s Major Crimes Unit at 856-384-5500 or Deptford Township Police.
According to the Charley Project, a website that profiles missing people in the United States, Martinez was last seen on a street corner near his parents’ Deptford home. He had a history of drug abuse, was homeless at the time, and frequently visited Camden and Philadelphia, the site says.