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Queens barber pleads guilty to killing and dismembering WWI veteran in 1976

Martin Motta appears in Queens Supreme Court Friday Nov. 5, 2021, in Queens, New York. Motta, 74, is accused of killing and dismembering WWII vet George Seitz in 1976.(Barry Williams/New York Daily News/TNS))

A Queens man who hacked up an 81-year-old veteran in front of a little girl more than four decades ago has pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Martin Motta, 75, is facing 20 years in prison for the 1976 slaying of George Seitz.

“For the gruesome murder of a World War I veteran, the defendant eluded arrest for more than 46 years,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “Now he is headed to prison thanks to the collaboration between the NYPD and our Cold Case Unit.”

Motta was arrested in November, two years after an anonymous caller directed police to the backyard of a home on 115th Street in Richmond Hill, Queens, where Motta buried Seitz’s body parts.

An 11-year-old girl whose mother was dating Motta in 1976 saw the barber cut up the octogenarian’s body and take black garbage bags to his home where the remains were found.

After hearing the tip in 2019, detectives broke up a concrete slab and discovered Seitz’s severed pelvis and parts of his torso. He was dismembered at the neck, shoulder and hips, police said.

Detectives believe Motta targeted the war veteran because the victim was known to carry large sums of cash while strolling through the neighborhood.

On Dec. 10, 1976, Motta robbed Seitz of about $8,000 after the victim walked into his shop, named Haircutters. During the crime, Motta fatally stabbed Seitz in the head.

Prosecutors charged Motta with murder after DNA from the remains led investigators to Seitz’s relatives, and finally to the elderly man’s killer.

This was the first time a city prosecutor used forensic genetic genealogy in a homicide case, Katz said.

“No matter how much time has passed, we will use every tool at our disposal to achieve justice,” she said.

A call to Motta’s attorney for comment was not immediately returned.


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