After nearly 45 years, the NYPD has served a hot plate of justice in a cold murder case in Queens.
Seventy-four-year-old Martin Motta was arrested on Nov. 3 for the 1976 murder of George Seitz, who was 81 at the time of his death. Using genealogical technology (such as DNA tests) and a phone tip, detectives were able to investigate and piece together the evidence that led to Motta and the grim discovery of Seitz’s remains.
Seitz’s dismembered remains were unearthed in 2019 in the rear of an home on 115th Street in Richmond Hill, where the alleged killer resided, authorities said. They had been buried under concrete for nearly a half-century.
“This just goes to show the effort and determination of the Police Department and the DA’s office will not stop, we are relentless in bringing people to justice when they commit crimes and homicides,” Chief of Detectives James Essig said at a press conference in One Police Plaza on Nov. 4.
Police showed a photo of Seitz, a World War I veteran, in his youth, wearing a military uniform; as well as a composite sketch of how he appeared on the day of his death.
Seitz was reported missing when he left his residence at 159-12 88th Ave. in Jamaica on Dec. 10, 1976 in order to get a haircut — but he never arrived at the barber shop.
According to Daniel Saunders of the Queens District Attorney’s office, Seitz was known to carry large sums of money, leading detectives to believe that robbery was the killer’s motive.
“We think that the motive in this case was robbery and that he was killed, dismembered and the remains buried shortly thereafter,” Saunders said, adding the hairdresser was also owned by the suspect.
Officials also received a tip pointing to the suspect, but it’s believed that fears of repercussions had prevented the tipster from coming forward for nearly five decades.
“I think that you would have to attribute it to a matter of intimidation and concerns about repercussions,” Saunders said.
While the exact cause of death has yet to be determined due to the state of the remains, including a mangled torso, medical examiners have declared it a homicide.
Motta, the now elderly suspect, has been indicted with one count of intentional murder in the second degree, yet due to the passage of time and the statute limitations no other charge could be brought against him. Motta was slated to be brought to Rikers Island, where he will remain pending trial.
Saunders lauded the NYPD’s investigative efforts.
“I agree with the NYPD’s wholeheartedly remarkable investigation and it pays tribute to their persistence, their diligence, and their thoroughness in conducting an investigation,” Saunders added.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz, who announced Motta’s indictment Wednesday, said the case served “as an example of how police and prosecutors work together to bring individuals to justice, regardless of how much time passes or how many obstacles are placed in our path.”
“After 45 years, the alleged killer of a World War I 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.”