Who Was Menachem Stark — and Why Was He Murdered?

Contradictions Swirl Around Slain Hasidic Real Estate Man

vos iz neias

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published January 09, 2014, issue of January 17, 2014.

(page 5 of 5)

Nassau County police found the developer’s burnt body in a dumpster on Long Island at 4 p.m. on January 3; the body was identified as Stark’s on the following day. Stark was mourned at a massive funeral in Williamsburg on Saturday night, then taken to the Satmar village of Kiryas Joel to be buried later that evening in accordance with Orthodox custom.

Speculation has been rampant in recent days in Williamsburg about the circumstances surrounding Stark’s death. Newspapers have quoted officials saying that he died from “compression asphyxiation,” which sources attributed to his attackers sitting on him inside the van, perhaps to subdue him. That raises the possibility that the kidnappers planned to keep Stark alive, but he died accidentally during a struggle.

Some community members report that the murder has left them frightened. “Anybody who is not shaken — if you see a lovely person who has done so much good and can be brutally, brutally killed — that should shake up every human being,” Niederman said.

The Satmar community member, however, was less concerned, noting it was likely that Stark was personally targeted in the murder.

“I don’t deal with goyim, I don’t deal with tenants,” the community member said. “[Am I] scared? I don’t know. I don’t have enemies.”

New York City police commissioner William Bratton said on January 7 that the police still had no significant leads in the case.

Contact Josh Nathan-Kazis at nathankazis@forward.com or on Twitter, @joshnathankazis

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