Police and Jewish security patrols were frantically hunting for Hasidic milliionaire real estate developer Menachem Stark and relatives vowed to pay a $100,000 reward for his return after he was reportedly kidnapped outside his Brooklyn office.
UPDATE: Body found in dumpster identified as kidnapped developer Menachem Stark: sources.
With Shabbat here, efforts to find Stark continued on a frigid Saturday morning, more than a full day after he was snatched just steps from a police precinct house.
Hasidic families rushed to complete pre-Shabbat chores on the snowy block Friday afternoon, where little more than a piece of blue tape marked the crime scene outside a dollar store on Rutledge Street, above which Stark’s real estate office is located.
“Did you hear what happened here?” one man told another in Yiddish, as his three children played in the snow nearby.
“Oh, my God,” replied the other man from inside his SUV, before both rushed away.
Rabbi David Niederman, president of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and a leader of the Satmar community there, would not speak specifically about this case. Speaking generally, however, he said that Orthodox Jews can break the Sabbath in instances when a life could be in danger.
“If there’s any question of loss of life, everything can and will be done on the Sabbath,” Niederman said.
Stark, a prominent member of the Williamsburg Satmar Hasidic community, was seen bundled into an unmarked van outside his office about 11:30 p.m. Thursday, DNAInfo reported.
The kidnappers were waiting outside Stark’s office, ambushed him, then drove off in a white van, reports said. The search was hampered by the blizzard that hammered the city overnight.
“We have to move quickly,” Yoely Stark, Menachem Stark’s brother told Voz Is Neias on Friday. “Shabbos is coming and time is very important.”
The brother invoked the memory of Leiby Kletzky, the Brooklyn boy who was snatched off the street and killed in 2011.
“Remember Leiby Kletzky? They only got him through the security cameras and we need people to come forward now to help,” Yoely Stark told the web site. “The fastest way possible to get information is through the cameras which give the most accurate information.”
Police sources told the Daily News that Stark was carrying $4,000 in cash at the time of the alleged kidnapping.
A relative denied reports Menachem Stark was carrying a large amount of cash. He told DNAInfo that the family was offering a $100,000 reward for information about the crime.
Menachem Stark’s wife, Bashie, called the Shomrim when he did not return home before midnight, according to the New York Post.
The Shomrim security patrol apparently waited till 2:30 a.m. Friday to notify the NYPD of the incident. Delays in reporting crimes to the police has long been a source of friction between the groups.
Menachem Stark, a real estate developer, was reportedly sued in 2011 over a $29 million loan that financed a 74-unit residential rental building at 100 South 4th Street in trendy south Williamsburg, the Real Deal reported
Yitzy Stark acknowledged that his brother was involved in several large real estate deals, but said the family knows of no bad blood that could have sparked the kidnapping.
“There are a lot of big deals and big money,” Yitzy Stark told Vos Iz Neias. “Right now he is involved in four or five separate developments here in Brooklyn …. There are so many leads that it is hard to know where to start searching.”
“Every landlord has good records and bad records,” added Yitzy Stark.
Stark reportedly has strong ties on both sides of the bitter factional split within the Satmar community, which has dueling rebbes.