January 6, 2014 Williamsburg, Brooklyn (CBSNewYork) — The family of a murdered Brooklyn landlord whose torched body was found on Friday has increased a reward in hopes of catching the killer or killers.
Relatives also defended Menachem “Max” Stark, a day after a New York Post cover story about the slaying called Stark a “slumlord” and included the headline “Who didn’t want him dead?“
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, the relatives and friends spoke of the pain felt by Stark’s widow and her children.
“Children do not have a father. A wife doesn’t have a husband,” said Rabbi David Niederman, a family friend. “Why? What did he do?”
Stark was a wealthy real estate developer and a father of seven.
Surveillance video shows Stark being abducted late Thursday night outside his office on Rutledge Street n South Williamsburg when two suspects struggled with him and forced him into a light-colored 2006 or 2007 Dodge Caravan.
A day later, Stark’s body was found inside a Dumpster at a Getty gas station on Cuttermill Road in Great Neck, Long Island.
Relatives Monday were furious about the New York Post article, which quoted police sources as saying Stark had a list of enemies so long that investigators didn’t know where to begin in solving the case. Stark also was deep in debt before he was killed and had made many shady real estate transactions, the Post reported.
“I hate the fact that I have to come here and defend a good man from people who like to gossip and want to talk nonsense,” Stark’s brother-in-law Moses Strulowitz told WCBS 880′s Alex Silverman.
“A guy that had over a thousand tenants … you’re not going to have a few unsatisfied tenants,” he added.
Rabbi Niederman said the reward for tips leading to Stark’s killer is up to $25,000.
“As time goes on, evidence and leads diminish, and that’s why they’re increasing that,” Niederman told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones.
Niederman said Stark’s kidnapping and death have sent a shock wave through the Hasidic community.
“When somebody is taken away in such a brutal manner, that is basically destroying everybody,” he said.
Meanwhile, because of the unusually brutal death, Stark’s long-time business partner, Israel Perlmutter, has employed a private security detail whom CBS 2 encountered outside his home.
Stark’s family, which has put up a $25,000 reward, commended NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton for coming to Brooklyn to check on the investigation.
Stark’s family would not say if they have a hunch about a motive. However, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, D-Brooklyn, speculated the 39-year-old father of eight might have been slain over money.
“He had some money that maybe he was carrying and maybe killed because he had money in his pocket,” Lentol said.
The family begged for people to come forward with tips for police to solve the mystery as to who killed Stark.
He left behind five girls and two boys – the oldest a 16-year-old girl.