Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on October 23, 2020,  Thomas Hatchett, 88, of Manchester Township, pled guilty to Aggravated Manslaughter in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-4 before the Honorable Michael T. Collins, J.S.C.  At the time of his sentencing on December 18, 2020, the Court will sentence Hatchett to a term of imprisonment between ten and thirty years in New Jersey State Prison (NJSP), subject to the terms of the No Early Release Act, N.J.S.A. 2C:43-7.2.  The State reserves the right to seek the maximum term of thirty years NJSP.

On July 1, 2019, Manchester Township Police Officers were summoned to a Manchester residence by a 911 call in reference to a male victim lying face down in the street in front of a residence.  Officers found Igal Hedad, 71, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, bleeding from his head with gunshot wounds to his back.  Mr. Hedad was pronounced dead at the scene.  The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team responded to assist.  The SWAT Team made entry to the house and found it to be unoccupied.  Investigation revealed that the resident of the home was Thomas Hatchett.  Further investigation revealed that Hatchett had previously maintained an address in Verona, New Jersey.  The Verona Police Department was contacted.  Verona Police Officers located Hatchett and transported him to police headquarters.  Detectives from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit and Manchester Township Police Department traveled to Verona where they interviewed Hatchett.  It was thereafter determined that Hatchett was the individual responsible for Mr. Hedad’s death.  Hatchett was subsequently arrested and charged without incident, and has been lodged in the Ocean County Jail since the date of his arrest.

“This was really a senseless act of violence.  Hatchett has accepted responsibility for his brutal and inhumane conduct, and he will be sentenced accordingly to state prison for a very long time,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated.  “Any sentence Judge Collins decides to impose will amount to a life sentence given this defendant’s age.  Hatchett will spend the rest of his life behind bars, and deservedly so,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded. 

Prosecutor Billhimer would like to acknowledge the excellent work of Senior Assistant Prosecutor Meghan O’Neill who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the collaborative efforts of the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Regional SWAT Team, Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Advocacy Unit, Manchester Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and Verona Police Department, who collectively did an outstanding job investigating and resolving this matter, ultimately resulting in today’s guilty plea.