GRAMERCY, Manhattan – The thought of Joey Comunale’s brutal murder was too much for his father to bare.
“He touched everybody who came in contact with him, loved him,” Pat Comunale said. “He was one of a kind. He didn’t deserve this, he didn’t go looking for trouble.”
The 26-year-old Connecticut man left his Stamford home Saturday for a night of partying in the city. Detectives say Comunale left Greenwich Village in the early morning hours Sunday and was invited back to an apartment on the Upper East Side to continue drinking.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in a Wednesday night news conference Comunale might have been with strangers.
“At 4.a.m he went to 518 E. 59th St. with people he met that night, not people he came from Connecticut with,” Boyce said.
But the man, friends described as “the life of the party,” was never seen alive again.
Exactly what happened inside the fourth-floor apartment remains a mystery.
“I don’t know if it was premeditated,” Comunale said. “I don’t know what happened.”
Comunale met his end after apparently being stabbed to death inside the luxury building. His body was stuffed in a suitcase.
Police say the suspect drove it 55 miles, to a remote area in Oceanport, New Jersey and dumped the remains in a shallow grave behind a flower shop.
Investigators say someone inside the apartment lead them to the grisly scene.
While police have no arrests, the NYPD says they have James Rackover in custody for questioning. Rackover is the son of celebrity jeweler Jeffrey Rackover, whose famous clientele include Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez and future First Lady Melania Trump. Both of them live in the apartment where Comunale was last seen.
The younger Rackover lawyered up and is not talking to police, according to Boyce. He is being held in the 13th Precinct in Gramercy.
“We’re operating on physical evidence because he’s not cooperating with us,” Boyce said.
A second person was also being questioned in connection with the case, but has been released. The individual has been identified as Lawrance Dilione of Ocean Port, New Jersey and he allegedly told police where the body was placed behind Foggia Florist and Greenhouses in Oceanport, a source told PIX11.
As for his victim’s father, he has to deal with the loss of his son.
“We’re in denial,” Comunale said. “All I have left is his friends.”