From what the household informed them, the detectives concluded that George Seitz suffered from PTSD for many years after he served in World Warfare I.
When the reclusive Seitz did set out from his dwelling in Queens, he can be in enterprise apparel as if he have been headed for an workplace. He would as a substitute simply wander the neighborhood. He apparently didn’t belief banks and carried on his particular person no matter cash he had. He would pull out a roll of payments when it got here time to pay for one thing.
At 10 a.m. on Dec. 11, 1976, Seitz set off with a specific vacation spot: a barber store two and half blocks from his home. He by no means returned. He was nonetheless lacking on March 12, 2019, when a girl referred to as the 102nd Precinct detective squad to report a long-ago murder.
By likelihood, Det. Erik Contreras was the one who answered the telephone. He was simply 31, a cop for 9 years and a detective for 3. He was as overburdened as the remainder of the squad with different circumstances, however he was additionally younger and particularly devoted.
“From the start, I took a really huge curiosity in it,” he informed The Day by day Beast.
The girl mentioned the killer was Martin Motta and that the sufferer was buried in plastic baggage within the yard of what was his dwelling on the time of the homicide, 87-72 a hundred and fifteenth St. within the Richmond Hill part of Queens.
The girl didn’t determine the sufferer, however her info was so detailed and convincing that Contreras secured a go-ahead to go looking the yard. The Emergency Service Unit set to digging and located a partial torso and a pelvis bone underneath concrete that had been poured alongside a wooden fence.
The girl had not recognized the sufferer, and there was nothing in native, state, or nationwide databases that matched the DNA extracted from the stays. Contreras and his accomplice, Det. Michael Gaine from Queens South Murder, discovered themselves with a thriller that was the reverse of what investigators most frequently face.
“Normally you understand who the sufferer is, you attempt to discover out who the perpetrator is,” Contreras informed The Day by day Beast.
The detectives have been initially unable to search out any matching lacking particular person experiences from across the time the lady estimated the homicide was dedicated. They remained decided to determine the sufferer and make the case.
“You are feeling for a person who died on this method,” Contreras mentioned.
“No particular person ought to should undergo one thing like this. I nearly took it a little bit private.”
There was nonetheless an opportunity the sufferer’s rapid kinfolk may very well be recognized by way of a genomic genealogical profile. However New York state regulation on the time allowed police to make use of that methodology solely when in search of to determine a suspect, not a sufferer. The FBI has no such constraint underneath federal statute and agreed to help.
The outcome indicated that the sufferer had relations dwelling in Ohio and California. The detectives flew out to talk to them. The large break got here in Ohio.
“The household mentioned to us, ‘I’m positive you’re right here in regards to the disappearance of my member of the family,’” Contreras informed The Day by day Beast.
The detectives knew they’d recognized the sufferer when the household informed them how George Seitz had vanished after setting off to get a haircut 4 many years earlier than. The detectives have been capable of reply the query that had stayed with the household ever since.
“They have been so grateful,” Contreras informed The Day by day Beast. “That they had been in search of their member of the family in any case these years. It was all the time behind [the family’s] thoughts: ‘No matter occurred to him?’”
The now-shuttered barber store proved to be Haircutters, owned and operated from the late Nineteen Seventies to the Nineteen Eighties by Martin Motta and his brother. The detectives went into the NYPD archives and located on microfiche a lacking particular person report for George Seitz from 1976, a dozen years earlier than Contreras was born.
“Folks would see the cash he had on him.”
The medical expert decided that Seitz had been dismembered and that the reason for loss of life was murder. There remained the query of motive. Seitz’s household offered that together with a photograph of him as a younger soldier in uniform. They informed the detectives that one symptom of the invisible wounds now often called PTSD was that his solely financial institution was the pocket he would attain into at any time when he needed to pay for one thing.
“Folks would see the cash he had on him,” Contreras mentioned.
The detectives determined that Seitz had been robbed and killed for his money. The Queens District Lawyer’s workplace introduced the case to a grand jury, and Motta was indicted.
The warrant squad arrested 74-year-old Motta at his dwelling on Wednesday and introduced him to the 102nd Precinct. Contreras took him all the way down to Queens Central Reserving, the place he was fingerprinted and photographed. Motta was arraigned on a cost of intentional homicide and remanded. He’s scheduled to be again in courtroom for a listening to on Friday.
Contreras and Gaine will nonetheless be busy serving to the Queens District Lawyer’s workplace put together the case for trial. The necessary witnesses will nearly definitely embrace Seitz’s relations, whom police haven’t recognized. There can even be the lady who referred to as the 102nd Precinct Detective Squad two years in the past. Police additionally haven’t recognized her, saying solely that she had waited so a few years to return ahead as a result of she had been intimidated into silence.
Within the meantime, Contreras and Gaine will probably be dealing with new circumstances, as they’ve all by way of this one.
“We realized to juggle,” Contreras mentioned. “We realized to juggle loads. It’s part of the job.”
Chief of Detectives James Essig praised Contreras particularly for giving every part to the Seitz case. We’ve got all heard in regards to the dangerous cops. Right here was an excellent one who had introduced justice for a murdered vet and his household.
“I labored very intensely on it,” Contreras mentioned.