Police have released one man after questioning but are looking for another in connection with the death of a 57-year-old man found bound and gagged in his Chelsea apartment on Friday, NBC New York has learned.
Police late Monday released a set of surveillance photos of a man allegedly caught trying to using John Laubach's bank card after he died, police said. The photos are from an ATM camera.
Earlier Monday, police questioned a 24-year-old man but released him after interviewing him.
John Laubach was found unconscious in his fourth-floor apartment at 212 West 22nd St. in Chelsea just before 8 p.m. Friday, when a friend went to check on him, according to police.
His arms were found bound to the bedpost by an electrical cord, his mouth gagged with tape and his face covered with a towel, authorities said.
Emergency responders pronounced Laubach dead at the scene.
Police sources believe Laubach met his killer on the website rentboy.com, a place where gay men can connect with other men or escorts. This was not the first time he used the site, the sources said.
Neighbors were stunned to learn of his brutal death. They said Laubach had only been in the apartment for about a year and that he lived alone with his pet cockatoo, often seen perched on his shoulder.
"He was friendly with everyone in the building," said one man who lived on Laubach's floor.
Laubach was an active member of a Greenwich Village church and was studying to be a pastor, according to a friend.
"He was searching to put meaning to his life, and he was searching for something that would fulfill him," said Brant Amundson, who helped Laubach recover after he suffered a stroke five years ago.
"He would come in and tell me how much it built up his spirit to be able counsel people and to help people who were in worse shape than he was," he said.
Surveillance photos of the person of interest: