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'We Have To Kill Him' Joseph Comunale's Murder Began After Fight Over Cigarettes

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Jan. 18 2017, Published 5:09 p.m. ET

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Joseph Comunale's disturbing Manhattan murder started over an argument about cigarettes, court documents reveal.

The bloody corpse of the Hofstra grad student, 26, was later discovered in a shallow grave behind a flower shop near the Jersey Shore. He had been stabbed multiple times and was partially burned.

Police said his body was stuffed in a suitcase and later dumped in Oceanport, New Jersey, according to WPIX.

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Now, a court filing by one of murder suspect James Rackover's co-defendants has revealed new details of the November 13 killing.

According to the statement by suspected co-conspirator Lawrence Dilione, Comunale was first beaten unconscious after a night of hard partying, then brutally beaten while helpless.

Though Dilione confessed to being involved in the initial scuffle, he placed blame of the killing on Rackover, the so-called "son" of famed jeweler, Jeffrey Rackover.


"I didn't kill Joe, it was James," Dilione allegedly told police. "All I did was punch him, then James said he didn't want to go to jail and then James stabbed him."

Mark Bederow, the lawyer for third suspect Max Gemma, claimed: "Dilione admitted assaulting Mr. Comunale to the point of unconsciousness after an argument over cigarettes. Rackover then viciously kicked and beat the defenseless Mr. Comunale and declared that 'we have to kill him.'"

25-year-old Rackover allegedly choked Comunale and stabbed him in the head with a knife before dragging his body to a bathtub "where Rackover unsuccessfully attempted to dismember him with a serrated blade," according to Bederow's statement.

All three suspects have pleaded not guilty.

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