New York

2 Charged With Murder of Hofstra Grad; Body Is Found Dumped in NJ

A resident of the apartment building where he died and a Jersey City man face multiple charges

What to Know

  • 26-year-old Joey Comunale had not been seen since entering the Grand Sutton apartment building in Manhattan on Sunday morning
  • Police say that there are signs of foul play and that they believe a body found in a shallow grave in New Jersey is Comunale
  • Two men now face murder and other charges in Comunale's death

Authorities charged two men with murder in the case of a missing Hofstra graduate from Stamford, Connecticut, who was stabbed 15 times in the chest in a luxury Manhattan apartment and then buried in a shallow grave in New Jersey. 

James Rackover and Lawrence Dilione both face charges of second-degree murder, concealment of a corpse and tampering with evidence. Dilione was also charged with hindering prosecution. 

Police said 26-year-old Joey Comunale appears to have been stabbed to death in some sort of dispute after he, two other men and three women returned from a nightclub on 14th Street late Saturday or early Sunday. 

One official said that Comunale was stabbed sometime after the three women left the luxury apartment building. Police aren't sure how the body was removed from the apartment, but believe it was ultimately transported to the shallow grave in Monmouth County and partially burned. 

NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce, at a news conference Thursday, confirmed that Comunale was stabbed 15 times in the chest.

Chopper 4 showed an extensive law enforcement presence at the scene where Comunale's body was found — a wooded area behind an old police department that had to relocate due to Sandy devastation. NYPD vehicles were spotted in addition to local law enforcement. 

Police had said there were signs of foul play in the disappearance of Comunale, who was last seen on surveillance video entering the Grand Sutton building near the corner of East 59th Street and First Avenue Sunday morning.

Stamford police said on Wednesday that the man had gone to New York City with friends on Saturday night and separated from them at some point. Police in Connecticut have not yet contacted the friends, but are aiding the NYPD in its investigation.

He was reported missing by his father.

Crime scene investigators were later seen carrying out bags of evidence from the apartment building. Law enforcement sources said they found bloody clothing and bloody sheets, along with a luggage cart that had evidence of blood on it. Boyce described the blood spatter in the apartment as "quite noticeable."

Comunale's family was asked to come to New Jersey to make an identification. 

"He was one of a kind," Comunale's stunned father, Pat, told reporters from his Connecticut home Wednesday. "We're just in denial. This is not something that happens to kids like this. I don't know if it was pre-meditated. I don't know how it happened." 

Comunale graduated from Hofstra University and was an avid hockey player.

"He was that kid, life of the party, never did anything wrong. Good-hearted kid," said friend Devin Edwards. "A lot of people, a lot of friends loved him very much." 

"He didn't deserve this," Pat Comunale said. "He didn't go looking for trouble. It wasn't right. This is not right." 

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