A charred body has been found in a Long Island dumpster and police say the corpse is that of kidnapped Hasidic millionaire Menachem Stark.
The body was found Friday afternoon and police say it has been identified as Stark, the prominent Satmar real estate developer who was kidnapped at the height of a blizzard Thursday night.
The victim was found in a dumpster at a Getty gas station in Great Neck, L.I. just before 4 p.m. Friday, Nassau County cops told reporters.
“There was a smell — it was horrible,” gas station owner Fernando Cerff told the Daily News. “I got a really bad feeling about it. I knew something was wrong by the smell. It was just too strong. So I called the cops.”
A funeral for Stark was expected Saturday night at Lodiner Bais Medrash on Marcy Avenue in Willamsburg.
Law enforcement sources told the New York Post and Newsday that tests showed the body was that of Stark, 39, a father of eight with a string of foreclosures and other bad real estate deals to his name.
“He owed a lot of people money,” one source told the Post.
Newsday reported the body was badly burned. The Post said Stark died of suffocation and it is not clear if he was set on fire before or after his death.
The frantic search for Stark will now become a tangled murder probe.
Video surveillance cameras show Stark, who reportedly had $4,000 on him, being attacked as he left his real estate office on Rutledge Street, just a stone’s throw from a police precincthouse at 11:30 p.m. Thursday as winter storm Hercules pounded the city.
At least two men subdued him, bound him with duct tape and tossed him in a light-colored van.
The search got off to a halting start when his wife first called the Shomrim Jewish security to report him missing. It took the group some time to call police, possibly giving whoever snatched Stark time to get away and cover their tracks.
Stark’s family quickly pleaded with the community for help — and promised a $100,000 reward for information. As Shabbat arrived, they also asked Jews to pray for Stark, who reportedly maintained close ties to rabbis on both sides of the bitter split within the Satmar community.
Although his family described him as a well-liked developer, Stark has a string of bad real estate deals in his past and is panned by tenants as a shady slumlord.
Even his brother conceded that he may have had enemies among former or current business partners or others.
Detectives will now pick through the details of those deals to see if any spawned enough bad blood to make someone want to kill Stark.