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Cops make arrest in 1976 cold-case killing of WW1 veteran in Queens


Unearthed human remains led police to crack a cold case slaying of a World War I veteran killed on his way to a barbershop nearly 45 years ago, investigators announced Wednesday.

Prosecutors said they’d indicted Martin Motta, 74 — more than two years after police found the skeletal remains of George Clarence Seitz, 81, buried in the backyard of a Richmond Hill home.

Seitz went missing Dec. 10, 1976, and was last seen leaving his home in Jamaica on his way to get a haircut, prosecutors said.

But his whereabouts were a mystery until March 12, 2019, not long after a woman told police she remembered a body buried in plastic bags in the backyard of a home on 115th St. near Jamaica Ave.

Police went digging and found a pelvis and part of a torso under concrete — enough for a DNA profile. The body was dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips, prosecutors said.

Even then, the case remained cold since the profile didn’t show up in local, state or national databases, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

In February, the DA’s office and the NYPD enlisted a private company, Othram Laboratories, to produce a comprehensive genealogical profile, which they handed over to the FBI, prosecutors said — and that led to a match and “crucial evidence” linking Motta to the crime.

Motta was indicted on murder charges Wednesday and ordered held without bail. His lawyer, Russell Rothberg, declined to comment, and said Motta would be back in court Friday.

“After 45 years, the alleged killer of a WWI veteran is being held accountable and brought to justice,” Katz said in a statement. “We hope the identification of the remains and the indictment in this case will begin to bring peace and closure to his loved ones.”

Authorities didn’t say how Seitz was killed, and the indictment against Motta doesn’t specify a cause of death.


© 2021 New York Daily News

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