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Queens man guilty of murder in 1980 cold case: DA

By Madina Toure

A Queens man was found guilty of murder for strangling a Holocaust survivor to death in his Flushing home more than three decades ago based on forensic evidence, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced.

Ernest Mattison, 52, whose last known address was 43-32 Kissena Blvd. in Flushing, was convicted Thursday of strangling Cecil Schiff, 73, in his home on Franklin Avenue in September 1980 after a two-week jury trial, according to Brown.

“The defendant escaped justice for decades, but new technology made it possible to find the killer of a 73-year-old man, who was strangled to death in his home nearly 35 years ago,” Brown said. “The defendant may have disappeared, but his fingerprints were found in the apartment and forensic analysis linked him to the crime.”

The victim’s wife returned home from the store and found Schiff dead in their home Sept. 10, 1980, Brown said. She discovered the bedroom ransacked, the jewelry boxes emptied and her husband dead, he said.

Investigators found several fingerprints on the jewelry boxes. The Statewide Automated Fingerprint Identification System did not go online until the early 1990s, but in 2008, the machine generated possible matches when they were compared to fingerprints in its database, Brown added.

A fingerprint examiner did a forensic analysis and found that Mattison’s prints matched those found on three of the jewelry boxes at the crime scene.

Mattison was scheduled to be sentenced April 23 and is facing 25 years to life in prison.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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