March 12, 2020
For Immediate Release
Contact: Acting Chief Thomas Gilbert - PIO - GCPO
Re: Arrest for Murder
Acting Gloucester County Prosecutor Christine A. Hoffman is announcing the March 12, 2020 arrest of Michael Zappley, 63, of Westville, N.J. for the offenses of Murder (1st Degree), Desecration of Remains (2nd Degree) and Tampering with Evidence (4th Degree).
On June 15, 2016, Miguel Martinez III was reported as a missing person to the Deptford Township Police Department. Believing that Martinez’s disappearance was suspicious in nature, the Deptford Township Police Department initiated an exhaustive criminal investigation, in close cooperation with the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office and multiple law enforcement agencies.
Ongoing investigative efforts led to establishing Martinez’s alleged murder during June, 2016 at A & J Auto Body, State Highway #47, Deptford, N.J. During the week of February 3, 2020, multiple search warrants were executed in Deptford Township, including a wooded area adjacent to Fox Run Road. At the Fox Run Road location, human remains, alleged to be those of Miguel Martinez III, were recovered.
On March 11, 2020, Michael Zappley disclosed his direct involvement in Martinez’s murder at A & J Auto Body, as well as his participation in the removal, desecration and concealment of Martinez’s body, the remains of which are alleged to have been recovered at the Fox Run Road site.
Michael Zappley was processed and lodged at the Salem County Correctional Facility, pending Court action.
Acting Prosecutor Hoffman stated, “Zappley’s arrest was a direct result of exemplary police work, professionalism and never giving up, providing a sense of clarity and justice for members of the Martinez family.”
Acting Prosecutor Hoffman commends the Investigative staff at the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, Chief Kevin Pancoast and the Deptford Township Police Department, the New Jersey State Police, New Jersey Department of Corrections, West Deptford Police, Westville Police, Washington Township Police, Harrison Township Police, Monroe Township Police, Woodbury City Police, Rowan University Police, Deptford Township Fire Department, and Washington Township Fire Department.
Chief Pancoast stated “Through the tenacious efforts of our Detectives and the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, we can finally bring closure to a family struggling for answers. Our community is a safer place as a result of our ongoing law enforcement partnerships, including this collaborative investigation.”
Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of their rights as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State Law.