As Menachem Stark probe continues, cops voice confidence
A top NYPD official said Thursday investigators were "feeling confident" with the probe into the abduction and killing of Brooklyn businessman Menachem Stark, but wouldn't elaborate about what new leads police had uncovered.
"This is a homicide investigation and, of course, it is very sensitive," Chief Philip Banks, the top uniformed NYPD official, said as new Commissioner William Bratton listened during a briefing with reporters.
"But I will tell you we feel relatively more confident about this investigation than we did a few days ago. We are investigating some leads, some leads are coming in . . . so the case is progressing," Banks said.
Bratton said some of the new leads have been generated by rewards being offered by Stark's family and friends in the Hasidic community of Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, as well as elsewhere in the city.
Banks' assessment of the investigation came a day after police released a surveillance video that depicted a man believed to be a suspect stepping out of a white Dodge Caravan and walking in front of Stark's office building at 331 Rutledge St. about six hours before the 39-year-old man was abducted on Jan. 2 at 11:35 p.m. Stark's partially burned body was found the next day in a garbage bin at a gas station on Cutter Mill Road in Great Neck.
The latest video showed a man wearing a ski cap and mask, as well as jacket and jeans. The man is seen leaving the vehicle and walking to the intersection of Rutledge and Broadway, and then returning to the van. Banks wouldn't say if the van had been located.
The importance of the video was indicated by the fact that at least one of Stark's business partners was asked to view the images Thursday night for possible recognition of the suspect, said a legal source familiar with the case who didn't want to be named. The source said police think the vehicle was in the area of Stark's office for at least two weeks before the abduction.
Bratton said police have been gathering video surveillance tapes for days in an effort to trace the van's movements, but wouldn't elaborate.
A manager at the Getty Station on Cutter Mill Road where the body was found said Thursday the facility didn't have any surveillance cameras. Two Jewish day schools close to the service station have some visible video surveillance cameras that face Cutter Mill Road and could have captured useful images of the van. Officials at the schools, the Long Island Hebrew Academy and the Silverstein Hebrew Academy, either declined to comment or weren't available for comment.