Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that a 38-year-old Brooklyn man has been charged for his participation in the kidnapping and murder of Reb Menachem Stark in January 2014.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant is alleged to be the mastermind whose plot to kidnap Menachem Stark and extort money from him ended with his death. This long-term, complex investigation leading to the arrest of this defendant and his co-defendant is testament to the commitment of this office and the New York City Police Department to get justice for the Stark family.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Erskin Felix, 38, of Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He is presently awaiting arraignment in Brooklyn Criminal Court on a criminal complaint in which he is charged with first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Also charged in connection with the case is the defendant’s brother, Kendall Felix, 28, of Crown Heights. He is awaiting arraignment on a complaint in which he is charged with hindering prosecution and tampering with evidence. He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, Reb Menachem was approached and accosted on the street by Erskin Felix and his cousin, Kendel Felix, as he left his office located at 331 Rutledge Street, in Williamsburg, on January 2, 2014 at approximately 11:30 p.m. After an extended physical struggle with those individuals, Reb Menachem was forced into a waiting vehicle and abducted from the location.
On January 3, 2014 at approximately 4 p.m., approximately 17 hours after the kidnapping, Stark’s body, which had been partially burned, was discovered by a Nassau County police officer in a garbage dumpster at a gas station located in Great Neck, Long Island.
According to the investigation, Erskin Felix knew Reb Menachem and did construction work for him. He allegedly enlisted his cousin, Kendel Felix, to help kidnap Reb Menachem in an effort to extort money from him. During the course of the kidnapping, however, Reb Menachem resisted and was asphyxiated when one of the kidnappers sat on his chest.
It is further alleged that Kendel and Erskin then picked up his brother, Kendall, to enlist his aid in getting rid of the body. They drove to Rutledge Street, but when Erskin got out of the vehicle, he saw the area was flooded with police. He then directed Kendel and Kendall to go elsewhere to dispose of the body. They then drove out to Nassau County, threw the body in a dumpster and set it on fire.
The Nassau County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on Stark and determined the cause of death to be asphyxia by compression of the neck and chest.
Kendel Felix was convicted of first-degree kidnapping and second-degree murder last month following a jury trial. He was arrested in May 2014. He is expected to be sentenced on November 2, 2016. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
The case was investigated by New York City Police Detective Christopher Scarry of the 90th Precinct Detective Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant Seamus Doherty, and Detective Matthew Collins (retired) and Detective Albert Brust of the Brooklyn North Homicide Squad, under the supervision of Lieutenant John Tennant.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Howard Jackson and Senior Assistant District Attorney Emily Dean, of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Kenneth Taub, Chief of the Homicide Bureau, and by Assistant District Attorney Christopher Blank, a Bureau Chief, in the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.