EAST FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (1010 WINS / WCBS 880) – It’s been a week since the body of Mattia Filippazzo was stolen from a mausoleum and her family came to the East Farmingdale cemetery Tuesday to plead for more help in finding her remains.
“The family has been devastated by this I can’t imagine that anyone would ever have to go through something like this,” said Vincent Longo, one of 21 grandchildren of Mattia Filippazzo. “It’s mind-boggling.”
Last week the family offered a $30,000 reward for the safe return of her remains. Suffolk police said up to $5,000 in “CrimeStoppers” reward money was also being offered.
“The taking of her body has shattered out peace, and the inability to know that our mother is at rest will haunt us until we can find her,” Brooklyn attorney Stefano Filippazzo had said in a statement on behalf of his family.
The remains were stolen from a mausoleum at St. Charles Cemetery sometime between Aug. 23 and 24. The Italian immigrant from Valley Stream, who worked as a seamstress all her life, died in 1998 at the age of 88.
The culprits vandalized two other mausoleums before entering the Filippazzo family mausoleum, police said. They removed the woman’s casket and left with her remains.
Police believe they hopped a nearby fence to get into the cemetery.
Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said Tuesday the culprits could face up to four years in prison if convicted of desecrating a cemetery. He noted that while cemetery vandalism is a somewhat common occurrence, the theft of a body is “extremely rare.”
He rejected any suggestion that charges against those who stole the body would be dropped in exchange for the return of the remains.
Police are reviewing video surveillance from various vantage points surrounding the massive 600-acre cemetery. Police said they have a few leads in the case but have made no arrests.
“We’re just waiting,” Longo said. “My mother, my aunts, my uncles, we’re all just waiting for a phone call and hoping that we get some good news soon.”
The cemetery, which opened in 1914, is operated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn. It is bordered by Republic Airport to the west and a number of other large cemeteries to the east.
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