November 2, 2023
LAKEWOOD, NJ (OCEAN)–Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on November 1, 2023, at approximately 4:15 p.m., Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department were summoned to the Lakewood Housing Authority on Sampson Avenue for a report of an explosion that developed into a structure fire. Responding Officers observed a male victim, later identified as Ronald Prichard, 67, the sole occupant of the housing unit, to be suffering from serious injuries. Mr. Prichard was transported to Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus, in Lakewood, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
A thorough and extensive investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Lakewood Police Department Township Detective Bureau, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, revealed that the origin of the explosion was in the bedroom of the housing unit, and the cause of the explosion was the release of natural gas to an open flame.
Prosecutor Billhimer acknowledges the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit-Arson Squad, Lakewood Township Police Department, Lakewood Township Police Department Detective Bureau, Ocean County Fire Marshal’s Office, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, for their collective assistance in connection with this investigation.