New York Man Pleads Guilty in Cold-Case Killing and Dismemberment of WWI Veteran Who Vanished in 1976

Motta in court roomMotta in court room
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Martin Motta, 75, pleaded guilty to the killing and dismemberment of 81-year-old WWI veteran George Clarence Seitz, who went missing in 1976.

A New York man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the killing and dismemberment of a World War I veteran who went missing more than 45 years ago.

Martin Motta, 75, is facing 20 years in prison for the slaying of George Clarence Seitz. He pleaded guilty to the killing on Tuesday. 

The Queens District Attorney’s office announced that the partial human remains discovered in the backyard of a Richmond Hill home in March 2019 belonged to Seitz, according to the New York Post.

Motta was arrested two years after an anonymous caller directed police to the discovery, according to Yahoo News.

Seitz had gone missing on the morning of Dec.10, 1976, and had last been seen leaving his home in Queens to go get a haircut, according to reports.

Investigators learned that he was a regular customer of Motta, who was a barber, the New York Post reported.

According to the outlet, an 11-year-old girl whose mother was dating Motta in 1976 saw the barber cut up the 81-year-old man’s body before taking black garbage bags to his home.

Motta fatally stabbed Seitz in the head after stealing between $7,000 and $8,000 from him, prosecutors said. Detectives believe Motta targeted Seitz because he was known to carry large amounts of cash while strolling through the neighborhood, according to the Post.

Authorities linked Motta to the murder through witness interviews and record searches across five states, according to the outlet.

Seitz’s body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips. Before they were able to positively identify Seitz as a match through DNA tests, investigators spent two years working to identify the skeletal remains of a pelvis and partial torso that were buried under concrete. 

“This long-cold case marks the first successful application in New York City of forensic genetic genealogy,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. 

Motta’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 7.

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

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