Chaim Weiss' father appeals for help in son's slaying after 27 years

Nassau police and County Executive Ed Mangano seek clues in a case where a young boy was killed with a blow to the head with a "hatchet-like" weapon more than 25 years ago. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (May 28, 2013)

The father of a yeshiva student found stabbed in his dormitory in Long Beach nearly 27 years ago pleaded for help Tuesday from anyone with information about his son's unsolved killing -- a case that police have recently reopened.

Anton Weiss, the father of 15-year-old student Chaim Weiss, specifically appealed to his son's former friends and classmates at Mesivta of Long Beach Torah High School, to share what they know.

"If you have any information you feel the police might need in this murder investigation, I ask you, I urge you, to please contact the police department of Nassau County," Weiss said during a news conference at police headquarters in Mineola.

Chaim Weiss, of Staten Island, was found in his pajamas at about 8 a.m. on Nov. 1, 1986, by an adult supervisor. Witnesses told police they last saw the boy alive at about 12:45 a.m.

There were no signs of a struggle or forced entry, investigators said. Nothing had been taken from the boy's room, and the weapon used to kill him -- a "heavy-bladed" object -- was not recovered.

Nassau police Det. Lt. John Azzata, commander of the homicide squad, said an unnamed family member believed there was a person who might be able to help the case and recently contacted police.

Azzata said police had also been looking at this case as part of a regular review of unsolved crimes.

"What I am here to emphasize is that there is somebody out there . . . that knows a secret," Azzata said. "I am looking for that person to give me that secret."

The investigation uncovered a number of important but unexplained details, authorities had said. Someone moved the boy's body from the bed to the floor several hours after the attack. And the window in the boy's room was found open, although the outside temperature had been about 40 degrees that night. The slain youth, who had been taking antibiotics for a sore throat, was not likely to have opened it.

Nassau police urged the yeshiva's staff, faculty and former students to come forward -- including those who might have been reluctant to do so years ago out of religious belief.

"The homicide squad is aware of the Jewish Orthodox belief that one should not call to account anyone unless there is positive proof that that individual was involved in such [an] incident," said Chief of Detectives John R. Capece. "We are sensitive to and respect that belief. However, a homicide has occurred and we need any information that can help us solve this case and bring justice and peace to the Weiss family."

A former friend and classmate of Chaim Weiss interviewed Tuesday said he was asleep down the hall when the student's body was discovered.

The man, who asked not to be identified, said police questioned him and fellow students "numerous" times and had them submit to polygraph testing. "From what I remembered, everyone cooperated to the fullest extent," he said.

For months after the killing, he and other students considered people they knew who could have had a reason to kill Chaim Weiss.

"No one could think of any motive or any person who could've committed the violence," the man said.

Police said Chaim Weiss' unsolved killing is not the only cold case they are looking at.

Police spokesman Insp. Kenneth Lack would not say how many cold cases have been reopened or how many homicides remain unsolved.

"Homicide cases are never closed," Lack said.

Anton Weiss' daughter, Rachel, and son, Menachem, accompanied him Tuesday, but they declined to speak.

The elder Weiss asked members of the media not to contact the family.

"We're going through a very difficult time," said Anton Weiss. "We need our privacy."

Police are offering a $25,000 reward for information related to the killing. They ask anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 800-244-TIPS or the homicide squad at 516-573-7788.

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