A World War I veteran who disappeared after he went for a haircut in Queens 45 years ago was “known for carrying large sums of cash” — and investigators believe that’s why he was killed, authorities said as new details in the case emerged Thursday.
“We think that the motive in this case was robbery and that he was killed, dismembered, and the remains buried shortly thereafter,” said Daniel Saunders, Executive Assistant Queens District Attorney.
“Apparently, the deceased was known to carry large sums of cash and apparently did so on that particular day,” he added.
Martin Motta, 74, was arrested Wednesday on a second-degree murder charge in the death of George Clarence Seitz, whose skeletal remains were discovered in 2019 in the backyard of a home in Richmond Hill.
Investigators were led to the bones on a tip, officials said, declining to reveal details about the tipster. Once they had the bones, investigators were able to get DNA.
Inspector Neteis Gilbert of the Queens Homicide Squad said the investigation was “intense and complicated” and relied on “investigative genetic genealogy.”
“This is the first investigation by the detective bureau where we were able to successfully utilize investigative genetic genealogy,” she said.
The technology has only recently become available to the department because of a change in state law and made it possible to look at DNA “ancestral lines” to find family members of victims.
Saunders said that allowed detectives to “piece together some answers to the questions of when it happened, where it happened, why it happened, perhaps even how it happened.
“And while there’s still some unanswered questions, they know a lot more now than they did two years ago when they discovered the remains,” he said.
When asked what the murder weapon was, the officials were unable to say.
Seitz, who had gone to the 161st Street shop then called “Hair Cutters,” was “reclusive,” didn’t trust banks and usually had thousands of dollars on him, authorities said.
“He carried all his money around with him,” said Queens South Homicide Detective Michael Gaine. “At all times.”
Motta remains on Riker’s Island.