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Queens Man Martin Motta Arrested In Connection To 1976 Murder Of World War I Veteran George Seitz

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Police have solved a cold case in Queens.

A 74-year-old man is charged in a murder that happened 45 years ago, allegedly at his barbershop.

As CBS2's Alice Gainer reports, 81-year-old World War I veteran George Seitz was reported missing back in December 1976.

"Left his residence to go get a haircut and he did not return," NYPD Deputy Chief Jerry O'Sullivan said.

The barbershop, since closed, was a few blocks away from his home, located at 161st Street.

Investigators believe Seitz was killed at the barbershop by his barber. The motive? Money.

"The deceased was known to carry large sums of cash and apparently did so on that particular day," said Dan Saunders with the Major Crimes Division of the Queens District Attorney's Office. "He was killed, dismembered and the remains buried shortly thereafter."

Those remains were discovered in March 2019 behind a home in Richmond Hill on 115th Street about 2.5 miles away after a tipster called detectives claiming that when she was 11, she witnessed her mother and stepfather burying a body in the backyard.

The investigation took police to five states.

They used investigative genetic genealogy to identify the remains and say crucial evidence link the owner of the barbershop, 74-year-old Martin Motta, to the crime, but they didn't disclose what that was.

READ MORE: Investigation Continues At Richmond Hill Property Where Skeletal Remains Were Found

Motta was arrested at a home in Jamaica on Wednesday morning, where the homeowner says Motta would stay sometimes as a favor to a friend of a friend.

"I feel terrible," the homeowner said.

O'Sullivan says Motta didn't say anything when he was taken into custody some 45 years after the killing.

He's been charged with murder. The elderly man is now facing 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Motta will be back in court Friday.

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