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Investigators: Teaneck Fire Set To Mask Murder

Man Burned Beyond Recognition, But Autopsy Reveals Gunshot
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Teaneck, N.J. fire

The body of Richard Cantor, 59, was found in the basement of the charred Teaneck, N.J. home on March 7, 2011. (Photo: CBS 2)

hazelsanchez Hazel Sanchez
Hazel Sanchez joined CBS 2 in 2000 as a general assignment...
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TEANECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police are searching for clues and a motive after a New Jersey father was shot and then his home was set on fire as an apparent cover-up.

CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez has more on this murder mystery in Teaneck.

As neighbors captured a home video of fierce flames devouring a house on Elm Avenue on Monday they had no idea it was more than just a fire. It was murder.

RELATED: Authorities Continue To Investigate Teaneck Arson-Homicide

Firefighters discovered the body of homeowner Robert Cantor in the basement.

He was burned beyond recognition and was identified through dental records. It wasn’t until the medical examiner performed an autopsy that investigators realized he had been shot.

Neighbors were stunned to learn such a heinous crime happened on their quiet tree-lined street.

“It’s no problem at all, but now, this case is a really scary,” neighbor Allessandro Bruno said.

“Sounds like a little foul play going on somewhere,” resident Sherri Siwulec said.

Prosecutors said Cantor, 59, lived alone in the house. Friends said his marriage only recently ended in a bitter divorce. Neighbor Cesar Guaman said Cantor’s ex-wife seemed terribly distraught when he called to tell her the home was on fire.

“She was so desperate. She turned crazy. She was back and forth running, all over the place there,” Guaman said.

Sanchez tried to speak to cantor’s ex-wife at her Bogota home, but her family asked for privacy.

“No, there’s no statement,” one family member said.

Cantor was a software engineer for Verizon Wireless. A devoted father of two adult daughters, he was well known in the community and well liked.

When asked if he could think of any reason why anyone would want to kill Cantor, Guaman said, “I don’t think so. He was a very quiet man. He wouldn’t get in trouble with anyone.”

But Cantor did find himself in trouble with someone. The question is, who?

This is the second time in seven months that Teaneck firefighters responded to a house fire and discovered a murder victim inside.

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