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Investigators were still probing what might have happened after video surveillance cameras showed 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 — and it took the group some time to call police, according to published reports. The Forward has reported that such delays have been a source of friction between the two organizations in the past.
Stark’s family pleaded with the community for help on Friday — 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.
The break in the case came Friday when gas station owner Fernando Cerff smelled something in the dumpster outside his Great Neck Getty station.
“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.”
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.
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.