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2 charged after body of Conn. man believed found in shallow grave

NEW YORK -- Police believe a body discovered in New Jersey is that of a Connecticut man who went missing after attending a party at a luxury apartment building in New York City over the weekend, and they’ve charged two people in the death.

Authorities found the body buried in a shallow grave in Oceanport in Monmouth County on Wednesday, while investigating the disappearance of Joseph Comunale, of Stamford. The body was located by cadaver dogs, and CBS New York reports the remains were partially burned and investigators found gasoline in the grave.

The 26-year-old Hofstra University graduate had gone to a club in New York City with friends Saturday night.

James Rackover, 25, being led out of the NYPD 13th precinct Nov. 17, 2016

He was last seen entering the Grand Sutton building in Manhattan on Sunday morning with three men and three women he had just met that night, according to Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce. The station reports investigators believe the victim was stabbed 15 times inside an apartment there. The victim also suffered a broken pelvis and detectives believe his body may have been tossed from a window.

Police first responded to the scene when someone called 911 to report a suspicious man leaving the building dragging a large bag, CBS New York reported.

Boyce said the victim’s bloodied clothing, sheets and towels were found in plastic bags that had been thrown down the building’s garbage chute. Boyce said detectives discovered bleach and say it was likely used in an attempt to remove blood from the clothing. Investigators also found “noticeable” blood spatter in the home.

Sources told the station blood evidence was also found on a luggage rack that was used by a fourth floor resident to remove some items on Monday, before placing them in a car. That same resident also allegedly asked the doorman how long video surveillance is retained by building management, the station reports.

“He did take part in removing clothes as well as the body from the location,” said Boyce.

Sources tell CBS New York police believe the resident -- now identified as 25-year-old James Rackover -- is responsible. Boyce said Rackover has requested a lawyer and is not cooperating with investigators.

Police announced Thursday that Rackover and Lawrence Dilione, 28, of Jersey City, are facing charges of second-degree murder, concealment of a human corpse, and tampering with physical evidence. Dilione faces an additional charge of hindering prosecution, the station reports.

Boyce said investigators were questioning several people including the other men and women who were at the party.

“He was loved by everybody, he had hundreds of friends, he didn’t deserve this,” the victim’s father, Pat Comunale, told reporters.

Sources told the station Rackover used an alias in Florida and previously faced burglary and drug charges there.

A medical examiner was expected to use dental records to make an official identification of the body. A motive for the crime remains unclear.

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