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.

New Hampshire homicide victim Nathan Cashman had taken up competitive bodybuilding (via GoFundMe)

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. 

Theodore Luckey (NH Attorney General's Office)

'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.

New Hampshire homicide victim Nathan Cashman at a recent birthday party for him. (via GoFundMe)

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.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

NJ teachers and educators caught in sex crime busts

Over the past few years, state lawmakers have taken on the challenge of dealing with accused child predators among the ranks of teachers and educators.

In 2018, the so-called “pass the trash” law went into effect, requiring stricter New Jersey school background checks related to child abuse and sexual misconduct.

The follow individuals were arrested over the past several years. Some have been convicted and sentenced to prison, while others have accepted plea deals for probation.

Others cases are still pending, including some court delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stunning Jersey Shore rentals, steps from the beach

Here are 10 houses along New Jersey's coastline for an Insta-ready beachfront staycation.