The grieving father of a 26-year-old Connecticut man who was recently stabbed to death at a party in New York City spoke through tears as he remembered the son he called a “gentle kid.”
“Who does this to a human being? I mean, who would do this to an animal?” Pat Comunale said of the death of his son, Joey Comunale, during a Friday appearance on the Today show.
“He was a gentle kid,” Pat said. “When he came over, I always got my kiss. And when he left, I always got my kiss.”
Police said Joey’s remains were found buried in a shallow grave in Oceanport, New Jersey, on Wednesday — days after he was last seen alive heading to a party at the Grand Sutton, a luxury apartment building in New York City.
James Rackover, 25, and 28-year-old Lawrence Dilione, of Jersey City, New Jersey, have been charged with concealment of a human corpse and tampering with physical evidence in the man’s death, according to the New York Police Department. Dilione faces an additional charge of hindering prosecution in the first-degree, police said.
(Though police initially said Dilione and Rackover had also been arrested for Comunale’s murder, prosecutors said they have not brought that charge against him.)
Both men were arraigned early Friday and have not entered pleas. Though they have reportedly both retained attorneys, their counsel could not immediately be reached.
Bail was reportedly set for both men at $3 million bond or $300,000 cash. It was not immediately clear if they remain in custody or posted bail.
“That is only the beginning for us. I look forward to what our review of the evidence will reveal,” Rackover’s attorney, Maurice Sercasz, told ABC7.
Police said Joey was stabbed 15 times in Rackover’s fourth-floor apartment in the Grand Sutton early Sunday.
Comunale headed into the city from Connecticut with his friends for the weekend, but parted ways with them and headed to James’ apartment with three men he had met Saturday night, according to the New York Times.
Joey was last seen on surveillance video entering the building at around 7 a.m. Police allege that he was fatally stabbed in the apartment, and then Rackover and Dilione loaded his body into a car, drove him to the wooded area in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and dug a shallow grave to bury him under a foot of dirt.
Gasoline was found at the grave site, indicating that “there was an effort to burn [Comunale’s] body,” New York Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said at a recent news conference.
“We recovered about 32 pieces of evidence at the … location. We have blood on clothing, substantial, we also have bleach. There appeared to be bleach on that clothing as well in order to cover up the blood,” Boyce said. “There is blood splatter in the apartment as well … it’s visible actually.”
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Boyce said no motive has been determined, though investigators have reportedly said they believe there was some kind of altercation at the apartment party.
Pat has often broken down in tears when speaking about his son. On Today, he described how Joey surrounded himself with great people.
“He judged people not by their possessions, but by their friends. He had great friends,” Pat said.
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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 Joey attended his party.
Jeffrey could not be reached. The Comunale family has declined to comment.