Police have arrested the friend and roommate of a former college basketball star from New Jersey who was found dead in his car in Brooklyn last year, authorities announced Tuesday.
Mark A. Holdbrooks, 49, was arrested Tuesday in the November 2015 killing of 35-year-old Michael Wright, along with an alleged accomplice, David Victor of Brooklyn, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Wright, of Closter, was found killed, with his body covered in a trash bag, inside his car on a street in Midwood on Nov. 5, 2015.
Holdbrooks originally reported Wright missing to Closter police on Nov. 8, 2015, and told investigators he hadn't heard from his close family friend and roommate since Nov. 5.
Police in New York City later found Wright's body in his white Lexus on East 16th Street in Brooklyn. His body was covered by a large garbage bag in the back of the car, and the medical examiner determined he had head trauma.
Prosecutors say Holdbrooks and Victor drugged and murdered Wright in his Closter home, then loaded his body into Wright's car. Victor then allegedly drove the car to Brooklyn, where he abandoned it, while Holdbrooks remained at the Closter home, prosecutors say.
Wright, a 6-foot-8 forward, played three seasons for the University of Arizona. He was drafted by the New York Knicks in 2001, but was waived before the start of the season. Wright then went overseas to play in the European leagues for Turkey and France.
New Jersey-based trainer Dave Paladino, who rehabbed Wright after he was injured while in Europe, recalled visiting Holdbrooks after Wright was found dead.
"Mark answered the door, hugged me, told me Mike loved me, spoke highly of me," Paladino said. "And that was the same man that murdered him."
That was the same Closter home that Wright and Holdbrooks shared with their two young daughters, according to Paladino.
"It's kind of disturbing, now that they have to learn Mark, who was their guardian, is now their father's murderer," he said. "It's very disturbing, very tragic."
Known as the gentle giant, Wright's killing elicited $1,300 in donations from gym members who loved him. Paladino said he gave that money to Holdbrooks.
"It's really strange I handed this man money on Mike's behalf, for his daughter," he said.
Holdbrooks and Victor were arrested Tuesday on charges of murder, weapon possession, desecration of human remains and other counts. It wasn't immediately clear if they had attorneys.
Bail for each man was set at $3 million. The suspects were being held pending extradition from New York to New Jersey.