A 25-year-old murder case was officially reopened Tuesday as detectives continue the hunt for a “brutal murderer” responsible for the death of a 15-year-old yeshiva student in Long Beach that occurred in 1986, Nassau County Executive Ed Managano said at a Tuesday press conference.
The student, Chaim Weiss was found dead of multiple stab wounds around 8 a.m. on Nov. 1, 1986 near his bed in a dorm room at Torah High School, an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva located at 63 East Beach St. in Long Beach, Det. Lt. John Azzata, the commanding officer of the Nassau County Police Homicide Squad said at the press conference.
Azzata said Weiss suffered multiple stab wounds during the attack. Although the Nassau County medical examiner’s office previously said Weiss was attacked with a “hatchet-type” weapon, investigators declined Tuesday to discuss the weapon used in the case, beyond saying that Weiss was stabbed multiple times.
The teen’s father, Anton Weiss, attended the media briefing and publically appealed for information in the case. “I’m reaching out to the public and I’m pleading to anyone – his friends, schoolmates, classmates…I’m appealing to you and urging to you in the strongest way, if you have any information that you feel the police might need in this investigation, I ask you – I urge you to please contact the police department,” he said in a prepared statement.
Other members of the teen’s family joined Anton Weiss in attending the press conference at Nassau County police headquarters in Mineola, including Chaim’s sister Rachel, his brother Menachem, and uncle Harry. Beyond reading the statement, Anton Weiss declined to answer further questions and asked that the media respect his family’s privacy. “This is a very difficult time for us,” he said.
County officials including Mangano, Azzata and Chief of Detectives Rick Capece announced during the Tuesday breifing that the Nassau County Crime Stoppers program was upgrading the cash reward amount in the case from $5,000 to $25,000. “We hope that this provides an incentive to bring this murder to justice. I implore anyone out there that may have information to call Crime Stoppers,” Mangano said. “This is about bringing a murderer to justice.”
On May 6, 1992, the case received some national publicity when Weiss’ death was featured on the television series, “Unsolved Mysteries.” Det. Don Daly, the case’s initial investigator appeared on the program and discussed multiple aspects of the case, including the fact that witnesses refused to come forward. “We got the impression that a lot of the students were afraid to talk to use. We learned at one point that in their particular Orthodox religion, unless you have proof or another witness…mere suspicion alone is not enough to go and say something or to accuse someone.”
Azzata also noted that the department is aware with the ritual, but said detectives are committed to brining a killer to justice. Asked if he believed the religious “law” may have hindered the investigation, Azzata said “Anything is possible.”
Although police have not released a motive in the case, Azzata said they feel that there is “someone out there that knows something.” He said detectives are still following leads and remarked that a window in the dorm room was found open. “It has to do with the religion and the soul leaving the room. There were other type clues that were left at that point,” he said.
“I’m not narrowing this investigation,” he said when asked if detectives believe the killer came from inside the yeshiva. He said the department is interested in speaking with anyone who may have information. “If they noticed that something was not right,” he said, “we’re asking them to step forward and let us know what was not right.”
Police would not discuss if new leads were being explored, but said detectives in 1986 recovered a strand of hair at the scene of the crime. They will now look to DNA evidence to possibly match the hair to a suspect. Azzata said the sample has not been tested yet because no suspect has been formally identified and the evidence could be destroyed in the forensic process.
According to Azzata, investigators were led to reopening the case while routinely combing through cold cases. He said that while exploring the Weiss case, a family member contacted detectives about a potential new witness. He declined to identify the caller or witness.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact Homicide Squad detectives at 516-573-7788 or anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All callers may remain anonymous and a $25,000 cash reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.