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Man Linked to Celebrity Jeweler Arrested, Charged With Murder of Connecticut Man Found in Shallow Grave

Police have arrested two men in connection with the murder of Joseph Comunale, a 26-year-old Hofstra University graduate who was found buried in a shallow grave in New Jersey after disappearing in New York City, the Associated Press reports.

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“Police said Thursday that James Rackover of Manhattan and Lawrence Dilione of Jersey City, New Jersey, face charges including murder and concealment of a corpse,” the AP reports. Rackover, 25, identified in some reports as the son of celebrity jeweler Jeffrey Rackover, and Dilione, 28, were also reportedly charged with tampering with physical evidence, and Dilione was charged with “hindering the prosecution,” according to PIX11.

Jeffrey and James Rackover Erickson/BFA/REX/Shutterstock

Comunale, a Stamford, Connecticut, resident, was reported missing by his father after he failed to return home from a trip to New York City with a few friends on Saturday, November 12, according to the New York Daily News. After getting separated from his friends during a night of partying, Comunale allegedly went with James to a party at a luxury Manhattan apartment building along with one other man and three women that he had just met, the Daily News reports. Per The New York Times, Comunale first entered the building around 4 a.m, and was last seen at the apartment building around 7 a.m.

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PIX11 reports that investigators believe Comunale was stabbed 15 times and stuffed into a suitcase. Comunale’s remains, which were partially burned, were found behind a flower shop in Oceanport, New Jersey, on Wednesday, November 16.

Joseph Comunale

Several pieces of evidence were found allegedly connecting the men to the crime. Police found blood in the Upper East Side apartment despite attempts to clean it, the New York Daily News reports.

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Per the Daily News, the party’s host allegedly called the front desk of the apartment building for a luggage cart, and a short time later, the cart was used to roll two suitcases out of the building, as seen on security footage. Police later found blood evidence on the luggage cart. According to the New York Daily News, police also discovered bloody sheets and a pair of pants that are believed to belong to Comunale in a garbage bag outside the apartment.

While some reports say the suspect is Jeffrey’s son, other reports claim that James is not Jeffrey’s biological child, and that the star jeweler, who made Melania Trump’s engagement ring and had A-list clients such as Jennifer Lopez and Oprah Winfrey, took James under his wing as a son. 

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