Menachem Stark's Family Mourns as Police Seek Answers in Hasidic Murder Mystery

Was Motive for Killing Business or Personal?

Better Days: Slain developer Menachem Stark, second from the right, enjoys joke with relatives.
Better Days: Slain developer Menachem Stark, second from the right, enjoys joke with relatives.

By Forward Staff

Published January 06, 2014.
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Stunned relatives and friends mourned the death of murdered Hasidic real estate developer Menachem Stark — as police continued to hunt in vain for his killers Monday.

“We’re still in shock. Nobody can come to terms with it,” a brother, Yaakov Stark, told the Daily News. “I spoke to my brother the day he disappeared.”

Moses Strulowitz, 31, a brother-in-law, told the paper the murderers must have come from outside the Jewish community, and predicted they would pay for the crime.

“This is the devil’s work,” he said. “If you were chosen for this despicable act, God will punish you sooner or later.”

Police said they had no suspects in the murder of Stark, but plenty of leads from the tangled business dealings of the father of eight from Williamsburg’s Satmar community.

Stark was bundled into a van as he left his real estate office late Thursday night by at least two men. His charred body was found the next day in a dumpster 16 miles away at a Great Neck, Long Island gas station.

The Satmar community continued to rage at the New York Post for its coverage of the crime. Referring to Stark’s myriad business disputes, the paper’s front page on Sunday asked ‘Who Didn’t Want Him Dead?’

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams railed at the paper at a Sunday afternoon press conference: “Who did not want him dead? Who didn’t? His children did not want him dead.”

Adams went on to demand a formal apology in Monday’s newspaper and announced that an anonymous donor has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Stark’s killer.

New York City Councilman David G. Greenfield tweeted: “I’m sickened by the @NYPost condoning the murder & kidnapping of chasidic businessman. I don’t subscribe. If I did, I would cancel subscription.”

A New York Post spokesperson backed the paper’s story, according to Politicker.com.

“The Post does not say Mr. Stark deserved to die but our reporting showed that he had many enemies, which may have led to the commission of this terrible crime. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time of loss,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Despite the outrage, police sources said they are continuing to probe Stark’s tangled real estate deals as a possible motive for the grisly crime.

Others pointed to possible personal motives, since a killer who wanted money might not have been so quick to kill Stark, especially when his family ponied up $100,000 for a reward after he vanished.

His business partner, Israel (Sam) Perlmutter, was holed up inside his WIlliamsburg home with security guards camped outside.

The partner’s mother told the Post he was “shocked, shocked, shocked” by Stark’s murder— and feared he could be next.

“His wife is very uncomfortable,” the mom, Hannah Perlmutter, said. “You don’t feel comfortable that such things could happen in your business. It’s very scary.”


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