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NYC man charged in cold-case murder of WWI veteran who was killed while going to barbershop in 1976


NYC man, 74, is arrested in cold-case murder of WWI veteran, 81, who was killed on way to barbershop in 1976: Remains were found in Queens backyard 2 years ago

  • After 43 years, a Queens man has been charged in the cold-case murder of World War I veteran George Clarence Seitz
  • Seitz went missing on December 10, 1976, on his way to get a haircut
  • His whereabouts remained unknown until partial skeletal remains were found in March 2019 buried inside a plastic bag in a Richmond Hill backyard 
  • Investigators used DNA evidence and a comprehensive genealogical profile to identify the remains as Seitz
  • While the cause of death has not been revealed, authorities say Seitz’s body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips
  • Investigators say they uncovered ‘crucial evidence’ earlier this year connecting Martin Motta, 74, of Queens, to the case
  • He was indicted on second-degree murder charges Wednesday and ordered held without bail
  • Motta is expected in court again Friday 


A New York City man was charged in the cold-case murder of an an 81-year-old World War I veteran who went missing more than four decades ago and whose dismembered remains were found in 2019.  

A grand jury indicted Martin Motta, 74, of Queens, on Wednesday in the December 1976 death of George Clarence Seitz, who disappeared on his way to the barbershop.

Partial remains – a pelvis and torso – belonging to Seitz were found buried inside a plastic bag under concrete in a Richmond Hill backyard in March 2019.

Although his cause of death has not been disclosed, authorities say his body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips.

After an investigation of more than two years utilizing a comprehensive genealogical profile, witnesses interviews and records searches spanning across five states, police found ‘crucial evidence’ linking Motta to Seitz’s death.

Motta was charged with second-degree murdered and ordered held without bail. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison. He is expected back in court on Friday.

Martin Motta, 74, of Queens, was indicted Wednesday in the December 1976 slaying of WWI veteran George Clarence Seitz (pictured) who went missing on his way to the barbershop

‘After 45 years, the alleged killer of a WWI veteran is being held accountable and brought to justice,’ District Attorney Katz said in a statement. ‘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.’ 

Seitz, 81, was last seen leaving his Jamaica home at 10am on December 10, 1976. He was reportedly headed to an area barbershop for a hair cut.

His whereabouts remained unknown until 2019 when the torso and pelvis were discovered. 

At that time, the coroner compared DNA samples from the remains to local, state and national databases but yielded no results.

In February 2021, nearly two years later, a private laboratory was enlisted to use the DNA evidence and develop a genealogical profile of the victim.

Seitz's remains were found in March 2019 buried in the backyard of a Richmond Hill home. His body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips

Seitz’s remains were found in March 2019 buried in the backyard of a Richmond Hill home. His body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips

The FBI, Queens District Attorney and NYPD then used that profile to find the victim’s potential relatives.

Officials contacted the potential family members, obtained DNA samples for comparison and ultimately identified the discovered remains as belonging to Seitz. 

‘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,’ Police Commissioner 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.’ 

Authorities have not specified how Seitz was killed and the indictment against Motta does not indicate a cause of death. 

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