Queens, NY

Man Charged for Murder of WW1 Vet Missing Since 1976

True Crime Mysteries (Megan)

George Seitz went to get a haircut and was never seen again. 

George Clarence SeitzPhoto byNew York City Police Department

It was in early March 2019 when NYPD Detectives got a phone call from an anonymous tipster. The now adult said that when she was eleven years old, she saw her mother and stepfather burying black garbage bags in their backyard in 1976. The tipster believed the garbage bags contained a person’s body and gave the exact location.

On March 12, 2019, investigators began searching the property, and human remains were discovered under a concrete slab in the backyard of a home on 115th street in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York. It was determined the body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulders, and hips.

Over the next few years, the NYPD and the FBI worked to identify the man. Eventually, they would use DNA from the remains to attempt to identify the man. Using genetic genealogy, in 2021, they were able to identify him finally, and in doing so, we’re one step closer to solving his murder.

The man was identified as eighty-one-year-old WW1 veteran George Clarence Seitz. Who, on December 10, 1976, had left his home in Jamaica, Queens, to get a haircut and was never heard from again.

George Clarence SeitzPhoto byNew York City Police Department

Once Seitz was identified, police did extensive interviews and scoured records. They found a suspect who had owned the barber shop that Seitz frequented.

Seventy-four-year-old Martin Motta was identified and charged with second-degree murder. Motta had killed Seitz and robbed him for the $7000–8000 he had on him. Seitz was known to distrust banks, and he was known to carry large sums of money at all times.

Motta had stabbed Seitz in the head, dismembered his body, throwing his head in the garbage and scattering his arms and legs around queens before burying his torso in the backyard. He was arrested without incident.

In October 2022, he pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter after taking a plea agreement. He was sentenced to twenty years in prison.

At his sentencing hearing, Judge Kenneth C. Holder said, “Frankly, you’re like Queens’ own Jeffrey Dahmer lite” and “I hope they’re hard, terrible years,” after giving the sentence. “Instead of getting a haircut, he got robbed, killed, dismembered, and buried in a backyard where nobody would find him for forty-five years,” Assistant District Attorney Karen Ross also said at the sentencing hearing.

“My mother died never knowing what had happened to her brother,” said Gertrude Jones, Seitz’s niece. “My hope is each day you spend in prison, you will think of your evil actions, the suffering my uncle must have endured.”

Melinda Katz, District Attorney for Queens, said in a press conference QUOTE, “After forty-six years, a veteran of the First World War gets justice. The successes of modern technology and forensics made it possible for us to not only identify the bones of the victim but also to help find any witnesses. When I became District Attorney, I created the Cold Case Unit for cases such as this where time seems to be the enemy. Time allowed forensic genetic genealogy and our investigators to catch up to this defendant.” END QUOTE

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Sources:https://www.oxygen.com/crime-news/martin-motta-arrested-in-cold-case-slaying-of-wwi-vet-george-seitz https://nypost.com/2021/11/03/nyc-man-charged-in-cold-case-killing-of-wwi-vet-missing-since-1976/ https://www.rgj.com/story/news/2021/12/17/family-friends-raise-11-k-go-fund-me-find-missing-reno-woman-kendall-rae-youtube-gofundme-true-crime/8674307002/

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