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Jamaica man busted for 1976 cold case murder of WWI veteran: DA

Investigators arrested a Jamaica man on murder charges in the killing of a WWI veteran in 1976. (Photo courtesy of Queens DA's office)

A Jamaica man was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with the murder of a World War I veteran who was missing since 1976.

Martin Motta, 74, of 89th Avenue, was indicted by a Queens grand jury and arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder charging him for the killing of 81-year-old George C. Seitz, whose dismembered body parts were discovered in the backyard of a Richmond Hill home in 2019, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

According to the charges, on March 12, 2019, human remains consisting of a pelvis and partial torso were found under concrete in the backyard of 87-72 115th St. The body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulder and hips and the remains allowed the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine a DNA profile, in the hopes of identifying a family member.

Investigators excavate a home in Richmond Hill, where the remains of Seitz were allegedly found. (Photo courtesy of Queens DA’s office)

That profile was searched within local, state and national databases with negative results.

Earlier this year, the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the NYPD sought the assistance of a private laboratory and the FBI to help generate leads to the unknown victim’s identity. In February, the lab, Othram Laboratories, used advanced DNA testing to produce a comprehensive genealogical profile from the skeletal remains, which was then given to the FBI.

The feds generated leads that were turned over to the DA’s office and the NYPD. Investigators working the cold case began to contact potential family members of the victim and obtained DNA samples for comparison to the discovered remains.

Investigators were able to confirm that the remains belonged to George Clarence Seitz, a World War I veteran who went missing on Dec. 10, 1976, when he left his Jamaica home on his way to get a haircut.

“The officers of the NYPD’s Detective Bureau, its homicide and cold case squads and its highly trained forensic units never forget and never give up,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. “Here again, this case shows that no matter how much time passes, our police officers and partners in the Queens District Attorney’s Office carry out a sustained commitment, across decades, to establishing justice for crime victims and their families in New York City.”

The joint investigation by the NYPD and the Queens DA’s office uncovered evidence that allegedly links Motta to the crime. The investigation included multiple interviews of witnesses and extensive searches of records through various agencies that spanned five states.

“After 45 years, the alleged killer of a WWI Veteran is being held accountable and brought to justice,” Katz said. “We hope the identification of the remains and the indictment, in this case, will begin to bring peace and closure to his loved ones. This indictment serves as an example of how police and prosecutors work together to bring individuals alleged to have committed crimes to justice, regardless of how much time passes or how many obstacles are placed in our path.”

Justice Holder ordered Motta to return to court on Nov.5. If convicted, Motta faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

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