Queens man, 74, charged in murder of WWI vet missing since 1976

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Left: Authorities dig up remains in a Queens backyard in March 2019, later identified as missing WWI veteran George Seitz; Right: Old photo of veteran George Seitz, who was 81 when he went missing in December 1976, officials say. (Credit: Office of Queens District Attorney)

JAMAICA, Queens — A 74-year-old man was arraigned on a murder charge Wednesday in connection with the death of a World War I veteran who disappeared almost 45 years ago in Queens, and whose remains were found in 2019.

Martin Motta was arrested Wednesday morning at his Jamaica, Queens home on murder charges, authorities said.

Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said Motta faces 25 years to life in prison if he is convicted in the death of George Seitz.

“After 45 years, the alleged killer of a WWI Veteran is being held accountable and brought to justice,” Katz said in 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.”

Officials said the veteran’s remains were found in March 2019, buried under concrete in the backyard of a Richmond Hill home. The body had been dismembered at the neck, shoulders and hips, authorities said.

However, it wasn’t until earlier this year that the remains were positively identified as Seitz.

The veteran was 81 when he was last seen leaving his Jamaica home in December 1976, reportedly on his way to get a haircut, according to officials.

Motta’s attorney, Russell Rothberg, declined to comment on Wednesday.

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