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Man Linked to Celebrity Jeweler Is Questioned in Partygoer’s Stabbing Death: Reports

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A man connected to a prominent jeweler, who has reportedly done work for Jennifer Lopez, Melania Trump, Oprah and others, is being questioned in connection with the slaying of a man found stabbed to death in a shallow grave in New Jersey, according to multiple reports.

Police are speaking to a person of interest in connection with the death of 26-year-old Joey Comunale, a New York Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE. The Connecticut man’s body was found Wednesday — days after he was last seen alive heading to a party at the Grand Sutton, a luxury apartment building in New York City, the spokesperson says.

Police said Comunale’s body was stuffed in a suitcase and then dumped in a shallow grave in Oceanport, New Jersey, according to WPIX.

Although police have not released the name of the person of interest, several news outlets have identified him as James Rackover, who has been linked to jeweler-to-the-stars Jeffrey Rackover.

The exact nature of their relationship is unclear. But multiple outlets report the men live in the building where Comunale attended his party. (The Rackovers could not immediately be reached.)

At a Wednesday news conference, police officials described the man in custody as a possible suspect — who was not talking. He has not been charged.

“He is not cooperating. He is under counsel right now, so he is not speaking to us … We believe he is a suspect in this homicide,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said. “We’re still operating on physical evidence because he’s not cooperating with the investigation.”

Joey Comunale
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James was arrested on an unrelated charge after Comunale was reported missing, according to Good Morning America. It was James’ apartment at the Grand Sutton that Comunale was headed to after parting ways with his friends Saturday night, Patch reports.

An NYPD spokesperson told Patch that police obtained a search warrant to enter James’ home, where they found evidence relating to Comunale’s disappearance.

Jeffrey has furnished jewels for the likes of Lopez, Oprah and Trump, GMA reports. And a 2008 Haute Living article noted that President-elect Donald Trump turned to the diamond enthusiast when proposing to Melania.

Boyce said Wednesday the person of interest, who he did not identify but who lives on the fourth floor of the Grand Sutton, was initially arrested for operating a car without a license.

Carly Erickson/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

But he is now being questioned in connection with the crime, Boyce said, and is being held at the 13th precinct in N.Y.C.

Comunale traveled to the city with friends on Saturday and was last seen on surveillance video entering the Grand Sutton early Sunday morning with people he met during the trip, Boyce said — “not his friends that he came from Connecticut with.”

Investigators say they believe Comunale was involved in a fight at a party in one of the apartments and then stabbed, NBC reports.

“We uncovered a substantial amount of blood evidence inside the building,” Boyce said. “Plastic bags that were downstairs through the garbage chute, in that room, his clothing with a substantial amount of blood, some sheets, some towels.”

Police said they believe the remains found in the wooded area in New Jersey are Comunale’s. However, Boyce said officials have not yet officially made an identification.

Comunale has been described as “an amazing hockey player and teammate from an incredibly close and loving family.” His father, Pat, shed tears as he spoke to reporters about his son’s death. (His family declined to comment to PEOPLE.)

“He touched everybody. Everybody that came in contact with this kid loved him,” Pat said, according to WPIX. “He was one of a kind. He didn’t deserve this. He didn’t go looking for trouble.”