Cops today arrested and charged a Staten Island salesman – dubbed “John Doe Duffel Bag” – in connection to the murders of three separate Brooklyn shopkeepers.
Suspect Salvatore Perrone, 63, earned his moniker because video surveillance spotted him, with bag in hand, near the latest crime scene. Here is the first photo of Perrone – a struggling Staten Island salesman who peddles clothing from a duffel bag.
Ballistic tests showed that a .22-caliber Ruger rifle, found in Perrone’s duffel bag, matches the weapon used in all three terrifying attacks, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly said.
“The shell casings found at the three crime scenes were fired from Perrone’s rifle,” said Kelly, who thanked a small army of detectives whose work helped “seal the case.” “Perrone’s fingerprints were also lifted from the weapon.”
Authorities discovered a bloody kitchen knife and the rifle – with a flashlight, crudely attached with duct tape and two pink rubber bands – in the man’s duffel bag, which he kept at his girlfriend’s apartment, Kelly said.
The bag also included two other seven-inch buck knives, a box of .22-caliber rifle rounds and an empty magazine, according to Kelly.
The mustachioed “John Doe Duffel Bag” voluntarily agreed to answer questions yesterday at the 67th Precinct station house in East Flatbush, sources said.
Around 8:16 tonight he was led out of the station house, but refused to answer questions.
Sources said the cash-strapped salesman goes door-to-door hawking clothes to Brooklyn businesses, and his occupation explains why he was spotted on surveillance video near at least one of the murder scenes.
Police said they believe the suspect would have kept killing, if he hadn’t been busted.
“I think it’s reasonable to assume he was going to continue doing this,” Kelly said. “By arresting him, we have saved lives. We know that he went to other locations and asked questions that indicated … that he very well planned to come back.
The suspect turns 64 tomorrow. If Perrone is convicted for any of the murders, he’ll die in prison, said Ken Taub, chief of the Brooklyn DA’s homicide bureau.
“The specific charges, I suggest, are not as crucial in this case,” Taub said. “I suggest any conviction on any of the charges will result in a sentence of the rest of life in prison.”
Perrone lives on Clove Road in the Silver Lake section of Staten Island. One neighbor, who has known him for two decades, called him “sneaky.”
“He’s always up to no good. He doesn’t want anybody to know where he’s going,” he said, asking not to be identified.
Sources said the man has prior arrests in Pennsylvania in 2001 for burglary, harassment and stalking.
“Doe Duffel” was seen walking by Rahmatollah Vahidipour’s She She Boutique on Flatbush Avenue around the time the 78-year-old owner was shot three times Friday.
“He was in the vicinity,” Kelly said, “roughly at the time we believe the murder took place.”
A similar-looking man also was spotted on grainy surveillance footage near a Bensonhurst store whose owner Isaac Kadare, 59, was gunned down and stabbed on Aug 2.
Kadare’s widow said her sister believes the man came into the store about a week before the crime and acted bizarrely.
“When my sister saw his picture, she said that could be the man that was acting strange,” she said.
“I just hope they find the man who did this and lock him up for life.”
Hanza Mohamed, the widow of first victim Mohamed Gebeli, said the man looked familiar.
“I think I do know him. I think,” said Mohamed, whose husband was killed on July 6 in his Bay Ridge clothing store.
Cops had “Doe Duffel” under surveillance before he turned himself in, sources said.
“They [had] him wrapped up pretty tightly,” said a source.
Each slaying occurred as the lone business owners – all Middle Eastern – were closing up shop.
“It may be significant, it may not, but in all three cases, the victim’s head was covered either by cardboard or clothing of some sort,” said Kelly.
All three men worked in businesses that contained the number 8 in the address, and cops have been investigating that link.
“We’re not ruling anything out,” Kelly said.
The FBI has been working with the NYPD to catch the killer.
Sources said they are proceeding with extreme caution to avoid a hasty arrest and a shaky criminal case, as they have with Etan Patz’s alleged killer, Pedro Hernandez.
“Given all that went on with the Etan Patz thing, they’re trying to do more investigative work up front, like profiling and telephone records,” before naming a suspect, a law-enforcement source said.
“Thus far they don’t have anyone identifying him at the scene other than the video,” said another source.
Employees of stores near the latest Flatbush killing are being told by cops to use security cameras and to not close up shop alone.
“Since it happened, everyone in the neighborhood is trying to be safer,” said Katherine Parker, 35, who works at a Church Avenue wig store.
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