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Man Linked to Celebrity Jeweler Allegedly Murdered Partygoer at His N.Y.C. Apartment: Cops

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From left: Jeffrey and James Rackover.
Carly Erickson/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

A man connected to a New York City celebrity jeweler has been arrested and charged with murder after a missing Connecticut man was found stabbed to death in a shallow grave in New Jersey, police tell PEOPLE.

On Thursday, 25-year-old James Rackover was charged with second-degree murder, concealment of a human corpse and tampering with physical evidence in the death of Joey Comunale, 26, a New York Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

Lawrence Dilione, 28, of Jersey City, New Jersey, was also arrested Thursday on the same charges, according to the NYPD. He was additionally charged with hindering prosecution in the first degree, police said.

It was not immediately clear if either man has entered a plea. Though they have reportedly both hired attorneys, neither could immediately be reached.

The arrests come a day after Comunale’s body was found dumped in Oceanport, New Jersey.

Police in Stamford, Connecticut, said Wednesday that Comunale had gone to New York City with friends on Saturday night and separated from them at some point, according to NBC New York.

Later on, Comunale attended a party at the Grand Sutton, a luxury apartment building in Manhattan, the NYPD spokesperson tells PEOPLE.

The Hofstra University grad was headed to Rackover’s apartment in the building, Patch reports. He was last seen entering the building at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, according to the NYPD.

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Joey Comunale
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Rackover has been linked in media reports to jeweler-to-the-stars Jeffrey Rackover, who has worked with celebrities including Jennifer Lopez and Oprah. 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 for comment.)

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

Witnesses reportedly saw a man dragging a heavy piece of luggage out of the building, CBS News reports. Later, police found a luggage rack covered in blood, according to CBS.

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,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a Wednesday news conference. “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 Comunale’s body was stuffed in a suitcase and then dumped in a shallow grave in Oceanport according to WPIX.

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 Wednesday about his son’s death. (The 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.”

• With CHAR ADAMS