A New York man was charged on Wednesday in a 45-year-old cold case that involved the killing of a World War I veteran.
According to a press release from the Queens District Attorney’s Office, the man was identified as 74-year-old Martin Motta. He was indicted by a grand jury in Queens and charged with murder in the second degree “for the 1976 killing of an 81-year-old World War I veteran.”
The 81-year-old World War I veteran was identified as George Clarence Seitz and the DA’s office said that on December 10, 1976, Seitz went missing, never to be seen again. “He was last seen leaving his home in Jamaica, reportedly on his way to get a haircut,” the DA’s office said.
On March 12, 2019, “human remains consisting of a pelvis and partial torso,” were found in the backyard of a home in Richmond Hill, Queens, buried under concrete. According to the DA’s office, the body was dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips.
After the human remains were found, the city’s Chief Medical Examiner’s Office was able to establish a DNA profile. The office hoped that the DNA profile would help them link the remains to a family member, but they were unsuccessful even after searching local, state, and national databases, the DA’s office said.
“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,” the DA’s office said in the press release.
The private laboratory was able to successfully generate a “comprehensive genealogical profile from the skeletal remains,” which was then given to the FBI, generating leads for the Queens District Attorney’s Office and the New York Police Department (NYPD) to follow up with.
According to the DA’s office, investigators contacted potential family members and used DNA comparisons to determine that the remains belonged to Seitz.
The DA’s office said that along with the NYPD, they led a “painstaking investigation” and eventually discovered “crucial evidence” that allegedly linked Motta to the killing of Seitz.
“After 45 years, the alleged killer of a WWI Veteran is being held accountable and brought to justice. We hope the identification of the remains and the indictment in this case will begin to bring peace and closure to his loved ones,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. “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.”
Newsweek was directed to Katz’s statement after reaching out to the Queens District Attorney’s Office for comment.