NJ freed kidnapper over COVID. Now he’s accused of chopping man to death
The Asbury Park ex-con charged with chopping a man to death and killing another victim at a New Hampshire hotel had been released early from prison in New Jersey because of a pandemic law aimed at freeing inmates.
Theodore Luckey, 42, is charged with killing 28-year-old Nathan Cashman, 28, who officials said was found dead in the lobby of the the Country Inn and Suites in Bedford on Saturday night with multiple "chop wounds of the head, neck and body."
Cashman was a fellow ex-con, also released early from prison, who friends say had been turning his life around by participating in competitive bodybuilding.
Luckey is also charged with the death of David Hanford, 60, of Seaside Heights, who was found strangled in a room of the hotel.
Luckey was convicted in 2012 on a charge of kidnapping an elderly couple in 2009. He was sentenced in May 2012 with a mandatory minimum term of nearly 12 years, 9 months, which would have kept him locked up until January.
According to the Department of Corrections, he was released from prison with parole supervision on May 7 after serving 12 years and one month, with time served in New Hampshire from Oct. 11, 2016, to Feb. 5 of this year.
Luckey was eligible for Public Health Emergency Credits under the law passed in 2020 that freed offenders who had less than a year left in their sentence. The law does not apply to offenders serving time for murder, aggravated sexual assault or other serious sex crimes.
Before the law, Gov. Phil Murphy had signed an executive order to release some inmates nearing the end of their sentences on parole or to emergency medical home confinement.
Luckey is not the first early-release ex-convict accused of going on to commit a violent crime. A man charged this month in the fatal shooting of a Bridgeton 18-year-old in November had been released days earlier under the new law. Earlier this year, another man who had been released in November was charged with murder after cops said he shot two people at a party in Edgewater in January.
'Someone we all thought was a friend'
Cashman and Luckey were friends, according to a GoFundMe page created for Cashman's funeral.
"My friend Nate Cashman, whose nickname was 'Bones' was murdered by someone we all thought was a friend. Nate's family are mostly already gone, so it comes to us, his friends and his girlfriend to help get Bones the service he deserves," Richard Rapazzo wrote on the GoFundMe page.
Cashman had taken up bodybuilding and was preparing to compete in his first amateur tournament.
He had been released from prison on Aug. 3 after submitting a handwritten motion asking the court to suspend his sentence because he had "changed his life and way of thinking." His original release date had been Feb. 4, 2024.
The complaint in the hotel deaths does not explain the relationship between Luckey, Cashman and Hanford or if they met while serving time. The affidavit in the case has been sealed by the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office.
Luckey wanted to kill himself, cops say
Before being freed in May, Luckey was in prison on a kidnapping charge after he took a former boyfriend to a motel in 2009 on their way to Atlantic City and tied him to the bed, according to a 2017 appellate decision denying his appeal of the sentence.
Luckey told his ex he was going to take his own life and left the boyfriend in the room, the decision recounts.
He later randomly entered the home of a couple and told them he wanted to kill himself. He blocked the couple in their bedroom and ripped phone wires from the wall. He started up their car in the garage and "waited to die," the decision says. The 87-year-old husband was able to escape and get help from a neighbor.
In his appeal, Lucky said the sentence in the kidnapping case was “excessive” and claimed he was “forced to take a 15 year sentence he did not agree with.” The judges disagreed.
Michael Symons contributed to this report.