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Queens Man Indicted on Murder Charges for 1976 Killing of WWI Vet

Decades-old remains of a WWI vet were discovered in the backyard of a Richmond Hill home in 2019 (Queens District Attorney’s Office)

Nov. 4, 2021 By Allie Griffin

A Queens man was indicted on murder charges Wednesday for the 1976 killing of a World War I vet in a decades-old cold case.

Martin Motta, 74, of Jamaica, was indicted by a Queens grand jury for the murder of 81-year-old George Clarence Seitz, whose dismembered body was discovered buried in the backyard of a Richmond Hill home in 2019.

Seitz was last seen leaving his home in Jamaica on Dec. 10, 1976, reportedly to get a haircut, according to the Queens District Attorney’s Office.

His remains — a pelvis and partial torso — were found about 43 years later, on March 12, 2019, buried under a concrete slab in the backyard of a home on 115th Street.

Seitz’s body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips, according to the charges.

Investigators were unable to identify his remains for roughly two years.

Authorities failed to get a DNA match after searching local, state and national databases. The Queens DA and the NYPD then sought the help of the FBI and a private laboratory.

The private lab, Othram Laboratories, used advanced DNA technologies to produce a comprehensive genealogical profile from the skeletal remains in February 2021. The profile was handed off to the FBI, which found leads for the Queens DA and the NYPD to investigate.

WWI vet George Clarence Seitz (Queen’s District Attorney’s Office)

Investigators contacted potential family members of the victim and obtained DNA samples to compare to the remains. Through their efforts, they confirmed the body belonged to Seitz.

A subsequent investigation, which included multiple witness interviews and extensive record searches, led by the NYPD and DA’s Office found “crucial evidence” that allegedly links Motta to the murder.

“After 45 years, the alleged killer of a WWI Veteran is being held accountable and brought to justice,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a statement. “We hope the identification of the remains and the indictment in this case will begin to bring peace and closure to his loved ones.”

Motta was arraigned Wednesday in Queens Supreme Court and charged with murder in the second degree. He is set to return to court on Nov. 5.

If convicted, Motta faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

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