A missing Ridgewood man may have been found buried in his own backyard.
Frank Soucie, 60, was last seen on Monday, April 22, said neighbors.
Ann Marie Mandala, who lives on the same Putnam Avenue block as Soucie, said she knew he liked to gamble and thought he may have gone to the casinos for a getaway.
But when police showed up in their quiet neighborhood on Tuesday, April 30, neighbors knew something was wrong.
“We knew something had happened,” said Debbie Webster, a longtime friend of Soucie.
“When I saw the crime unit vans, I assumed it was Frank,” Mandala said.
Soucie, a retired postal worker, lived with his girlfriend and her son in an apartment. According to neighbors, the couple frequently argued over her 27-year-old son Derek Tudor.
Soucie “would kick him out of the house, bring him back in and kick him out again,” Webster said.
On Tuesday morning, eight days after Soucie went missing, Tudor was seen wandering inside Soucie’s building. He walked into a third-floor apartment and was discovered by the tenant. Tudor seemed “panicked” and asked to use the fire escape to get into to Soucie’s second-floor apartment just below, according to the tenant’s boyfriend, Raymond Velez.
“It was weird how this kid was acting,” Velez said.
Moments later, neighbors saw Tudor come out of the building with a large white laundry bag. He threw it into a garbage can, and Velez, who was outside, went to investigate. Velez said he opened the bag and found what appeared to be burnt clothes inside layers of black garbage bags. He said the clothes gave off a burning, chemical smell.
Neighbor Emma Alameda called the 104th Precinct to report the suspicious activity. Police responded and searched the area. They found a burnt jacket in the garbage can and an unidentified male buried in the backyard. According to media reports, the male is believed to be Soucie.
After the discovery, neighbors said Tudor turned himself in to the local police precinct. Police told The Queens Courier no arrests have been made, though numerous reports say Tudor confessed to smothering his mother’s boyfriend on Wednesday.
Residents of the close-knit Putnam Avenue block are shocked this could happen to someone like Soucie.
“I’ve known him my whole life,” Mandala said. “He would never hurt anybody.”
Neighbors said Soucie sat outside on his patio every night drinking beers, listening to the radio and looking out for everybody passing by.
“You felt safe if he was out here,” Mandala said. “He watched out for everybody.”