James Rackover is seen in police custody on Nov. 17. Rackover claims he knew nothing about Joseph Comunale’s death until he was arrested.
(Alec Tabak/for New York Daily News)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sunday, November 20, 2016, 9:17 PM
There were bloodstains all over his East Side apartment, a dead man’s clothes in the trash chute outside his place and evidence that a corpse had been in the car he was driving.
But a suspect in the grisly stabbing death of a Connecticut man who was in New York for a night on the town insists he didn’t do it.
Suspect James Rackover doesn’t dispute that victim Joseph Comunale, 26, was in his apartment Nov. 13. But he claims he never even laid eyes on his guest, and he knew nothing about Comunale’s death until after he was arrested.
“This is complete bulls—,” Rackover told the Daily News Sunday during a jailhouse interview at the Manhattan Detention Complex, where he is being held on $ 3 million bond. “I’ve never seen this kid. I don’t even know who he is.”
Neither Rackover, an ex-con from Florida, nor his friend Lawrence Dilione has been charged with murder, but investigators say that’s only because they haven’t figured out which one of them held the knife and plunged it into Comunale’s chest 15 times.
Rackover and Dilione, who is also being held on $ 3 million bond, were charged with concealment of a human body, hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence.
Joseph Comunale, 26, was stabbed 15 times in the chest.
Rackover, 25, the surrogate son of a prominent Manhattan jeweler, said he stayed home to watch the UFC fight on Nov. 13, a Saturday, and never left his E. 59th St. apartment.
Rackover said Dilione was at a club and came by his house with a few people around 4 a.m. He said he knows Dilione through an ex-girlfriend.
He said the group stayed at Rackover’s place until about 7 a.m., drinking and hanging out. There were no arguments or disagreements that could have preceded the ghastly killing, Rackover said.
He also said that after they all left, he went straight to sleep. Rackover said he hung out with his dad and the pair watched a football game on Nov 14.
On Tuesday, police came to his house and said he was being held on charges relating to a traffic violation, Rackover said.
“I only found out about the real charges through my lawyer on Thursday before the arraignment,” he said.
Cops tell a different story, saying Rackover and Dilione met Comunale in a Greenwich Village club that Saturday night, and came back with three women to Rackover’s apartment. Comunale was last seen entering the building around 7 a.m., police said, noting the women left before the attack took place.
Cops said Rackover and Dilione lugged Comunale’s body from the apartment and loaded it into the back of a Mercedes Benz for a 60-mile drive to a wooded area in Oceanport, N.J. There, Comunale’s body was buried in a shallow grave, where it was discovered two days later.
“Wheeled him out of the building? There was no body,” he said. “There was no dolly. I was never even seen on camera with this kid. I have no idea who he is.
“I can’t explain what happened at all. I didn’t do anything.”
Police recovered 32 pieces of evidence, including some blood-spattered ones, from 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.
Comunale’s killer or killers tried unsuccessfully to bleach the blood from the dead man’s clothes, Boyce said.
It is unclear what led to the fatal assault. Police sources believe the killing happened after Comunale rejected the sexual advances of one of the men inside the apartment.
Rackover said cops are making it all up.
“I have no reason to hurt this kid,” he said. “I’ve never hurt anyone. I’ve never killed anyone. I didn’t do any of this.”
James Beaudoin seen in a 2007 arrest photo. He later changed his name to James Rackover.
(Broward County Sheriff’s Office)
Rackover has a checkered past. He was known as James Beaudoin when he was busted for a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., burglary in January 2009. He did time from 2012 to 2013 on the burglary rap before starting his new life in Manhattan.
He was informally adopted by jeweler-to-the-stars Jeffrey Rackover, whose client list includes Oprah Winfrey, Denzel Washington and incoming First Lady Melania Trump.
Rackover worked for global management consultants Willis Towers Watson.
“I had a great job, a great life,” he said.
“I feel bad for this kid’s family and I feel bad for my own family. I feel terrible for putting them through this.”