NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One day after a missing man was found dead in a shallow grave in the backyard of his Queens building, the victim’s girlfriend’s son was charged with his murder.
As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported Wednesday, widower and retired postal worker Frank Soucie, 60, was last seen on April 22 and reported missing on April 28 by his longtime live-in girlfriend Stephanie Verni, police said. His body was found in the shallow grave Tuesday night.
Also Tuesday evening, Verni’s 27-year-old son, Derek Tudor, showed up at a Queens police precinct with his biological father and made statements implicating himself. Police said Tudor, weeping, confessed that he suffocated Soucie.
Tudor was charged with murder Wednesday night.
Tudor lived with the couple and has a number of arrests on his record, including fare beating and forcible touching, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported.
A motive for the killing was not immediately known.
Soucie’s sudden and unexplained disappearance prompted friends, family and police to set off on a frantic search of his trailer in West Virginia, a Rockaway bird sanctuary that he frequented, and his casino account that had been dormant since February, CBS 2 learned.
Investigators also scoured the neighborhood, including the rooftops where sources told CBS 2 detectives found gloves and other evidence.
They then went to the Ridgewood backyard where they discovered the body lying in a fresh, shallow grave, police said. Crime scene technicians then worked through the night.
Neighbors said Tudor had been acting strange in recent days.
“Everybody was like something’s not right. He’s sitting on the stoop, very quiet, to himself, very nervous about something,” neighbor Jennifer Harris said.
“His face, he looked very, very weird,” Iliana Bratu told WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane. “He looked like he was in his own world.”
Bratu and neighbor Emma Alameda said they grew suspicious after seeing someone who they believe was Tudor go into the apartment building Tuesday morning and come out with a white laundry bag which he dumped in the trash.
“I said to my friend, ‘that looks kind of weird, why is he throwing the laundry away?'” Alameda told CBS 2.
Bratu and Alameda carefully began picking through the bag.
“I took a stick and opened the bags, and I saw something gray,” Bratu said.
“We thought it was a coat — it was all burnt,” Alameda said.
The two women called police. The burned item turned out to be a charred sleeping bag, CBS 2’s Kathryn Brown reported.
“Everybody loved Frank. He would say hello to everybody. It’s just horrible. It’s so senseless,” said Soucie’s friend, Ann Marie Paredes. “It’s terrible what happened.”
“It’s so close to home. You watch ‘CSI’ on TV and all these shows on TV and it’s here in your backyard,” neighbor Bratu said. “It’s sad.”
The New York City Medical Examiner’s Office was to conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause of Soucie’s death.
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