NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Friday, November 18, 2016, 2:50 PM
The Connecticut man stabbed to death in a savage late-night attack appeared destined for greater things before walking into the wrong East Side apartment this past weekend.
Joseph Comunale, 26, suffered 15 knife wounds to the torso before his corpse was set afire and buried in a shallow Jersey Shore grave, authorities said.
Cops arrested two suspects, including the apartment’s resident, and both remained behind bars Friday.
“If you read about what happened in that apartment, it was heinous,” the victim’s dad, Pat Comunale, told the Daily News outside his Stamford, Conn., home. “Who does this to an individual?”
The victim, a well-liked Hofstra University grad, left behind his parents and a kid sister after he was fatally attacked inside the E. 59th St. high-rise where his blood spattered the walls.
“It’s been tough for us, but I can tell you he lived a full life,” the elder Comunale said Friday. “He was going to be 27, but he was his own guy. He did what he wanted to do.
“He had a nice townhouse, a brand new car, everything to life for. Everything to live for. And he did it his way.”
The Westhill High School graduate was a two-sport star in high school and college, playing hockey and baseball, his dad said.
Comunale expressed fears that the two suspects held on $ 3 million bond or $ 300,000 cash bail could come up with the money and walk free.
“It’s scary when you think about it,” said Pat Comunale. “I hope God’s on our side, the legal justice system will be on our side, and we’ll go from there.”
Though cops busted apartment resident James Rackover, 25, and Lawrence Dilione, 28, of Jersey City, N.J., neither man was charged with the murder as prosecutors tried to sort out which one wielded the knife.
Rackover’s surrogate father, renowned celebrity jeweler Jeffrey Rackover, had no plans to post bail for the ex-con, said longtime friend and ex-NYPD detective Bo Dietl.
“Richard told me, ‘I don’t even know this kid if he’s capable of doing this. I don’t want anything to do with him if this happened,’” Dietl said Friday.
A criminal complaint charged Dilione, who once lived about a mile from where Comunale’s body was found in a foot-deep grave, directed police to the crude burial site.
Comunale, when last seen alive at 6:50 a.m. Sunday, was with Dilione taking an elevator up from the building lobby. The victim was never seen leaving the building.
The criminal complaint suggests the body was taken out in a large duffel bag that was stuffed inside the trunk of Rackover’s black 2015 Mercedes-Benz before a Sunday night ride to New Jersey.
James Rackover’s upscale E. 59th St. apartment, where cops say Comunale was stabbed 15 times.
(Angus Mordant/for New York Daily News)
The vehicle was spotted coming back through the Holland Tunnel into Manhattan around 3 a.m. on Monday.
Cops uncovered recovered 32 pieces of evidence from the gory crime scene in Rackover’s apartment, said NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce.
There were bloodstains on the wall, and cops pulled the victim’s clothes, along with sheets and towels, from trash bags tossed down a garbage chute.
The killers tried unsuccessfully to bleach the blood from Comunale’s outfit, Boyce said.
Both suspects were charged with hindering prosecution, tampering with evidence, and concealing a corpse.
Pat Comunale said the outpouring of support and love toward the family since the slaying only reinforced what a special son Joseph was.
“I knew he was a great kid, but I didn’t realize how many people he touched,” said the father.