State Police plan to exhume a body Thursday from a small upstate cemetery, believing the remains may contain evidence related to a New York City mob hit from the late 1960s, officials said.
In a missing persons bulletin issued Tuesday, police officials said they hope to uncover DNA evidence that can be used to match the remains with a possible relative.
State Police said it’s the oldest unidentified person case in New York.
The badly decomposed remains were found by telephone company workers on Jan. 20, 1969, not far from a stream near the town of Tuxedo. The area had been a historic dumping ground for mob killings, particularly of the Gambino crime family, law enforcement sources said.
“It is believed that this case and others were mob related,” State Police said in the bulletin.
In 1972, a torso, later identified as that of drug courier Louis J. Mileto of Bellmore, was found in the area, police noted. Mileto had been delivering heroin for Gambino crime family associate Herbert Sperling, who was convicted of drug trafficking in 1973 and is serving a life sentence in a federal prison hospital, authorities said.
The corpse discovered in 1969 was that of a white male, estimated to be between 45 and 55 years old, 145 pounds and about 5 -feet-5-inches tall. The victim, who had been shot in the head, was partly clothed, with brown pants, brown socks and a white undershirt. The body is interred at the Cemetery of the Highlands in upstate Highland Mills.
To aid in the identification, State Police on Tuesday issued photographs of jewelry found with the body: a Longines-Wittnauer wrist watch, a gold chain and a St. Christopher’s medal with the words “St. Christopher Protect Us.”
Police said that by releasing images of the jewelry, investigators hope someone will come forward with information.
One of the more notorious mob missing persons reports from December 1968 involved Michael Scandifia, a reputed Gambino crime family member, who lived in Hillsdale, New Jersey.
Scandifia was reported missing a month before the unidentified body was discovered in Tuxedo. Scandifia has never been found, but his vehicle was recovered not far from the discovery of the body, said a source familiar with the case. His disappearance remains of interest to police, the source added.
Scandifia, a reputed loan shark and gambler who ran an auto garage on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn, was 50 years old and was awaiting sentencing on a federal crime of interstate transportation of counterfeit bonds when he went missing in December, 1968.
In 1963, Scandifia was accused of conspiring with NYPD officer Leonard Grossman, 40, of Brooklyn, to murder underworld informers. The charges against the two were dismissed after a court ruled that electronic surveillance had been conducted illegally. Coincidentally, Grossman, who was fired from the NYPD in November 1968, was reported missing at the same time as Scandifia.
He has not been found.