When Joey Comunale went to New York to party just like many others his age, it didn’t seem to be too worrying. However, an afterparty took a fatal turn, ending with Joey’s death. CBS News’ ‘48 Hours: What Happened in the Sutton Place Apartment?’ delves into how Joey was brutally murdered in an upscale apartment in New York City and how the people responsible tried to cover it up and get rid of the evidence. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?
How Did Joey Comunale Die?
Joseph Comunale was born and lived in Stamford, Connecticut. The 26-year-old was a graduate of Hofstra University in New York and had later worked as a sales associate at his father’s security firm. Joey was described by many as a great friend, and he was close to his family. On November 12, 2016, he traveled to New York City to go clubbing with a few friends. An afterparty he later attended turned out to be the last thing he ever did.
Joey’s father, Pat, reported his son missing on November 14, 2016, after not hearing from him. At the time, Joey’s phone was with another friend. Later, surveillance footage and further information led the police to a vacant lot in Oceanport, New Jersey, about 60 miles from where Joey was last seen. He was buried in a shallow grave and suffered about 15 stab wounds. Furthermore, his body was doused in gasoline, and his legs seemed to be burned.
Who Killed Joey Communale?
The authorities learned that Joey and his friends were at a nightclub in New York City’s Meatpacking District and stayed there till it closed. There, Joey met two men named Lawrence Dilione and Max Gemma. Larry had invited Joey to a friend’s apartment for an afterparty. Once Joey agreed, the two men left with three other women and headed to an apartment in Sutton Place where Larry’s friend, James Rackover, lived. He was the adopted son of a celebrity jeweler.
One of the girls was tracked down, and she told the police that Larry and Joey walked them to their cab at around 6:50 AM on November 13 before the both of them seemed to step back into the building. By then, Joey’s loved ones got a hold of Larry’s number as well. He claimed that Joey left with the women, contradicting what they heard earlier. But surveillance video outside the building showed Joey and Larry entering the apartment building after walking the women to their cab. This was the last time Joey was captured on video.
Once Larry was taken into custody, he began to talk, revealing what precipitated Joey’s murder. Larry stated that the group was drinking and snorting cocaine before the women left. Then, a heated argument led to Larry attacking Joey, hitting him a few times. Then, he said that James also joined in, punching Joey several times. At this point, Max, who was sleeping, woke up, and Larry asked him to leave. He claimed that James then began to stab Joey.
After that, James dragged the 26-year-old’s body to the bathroom and attempted to dismember it before thinking of another way to dispose of the remains. The duo cleaned up the apartment, and then, James went downstairs to bring the car out while Larry wrapped the body in a comforter and pushed it out from the fourth-floor window. The two then stuffed Joey’s remains in the trunk of James’ father’s car and drove to Oceanport, where they buried it. Larry claimed James set the body on fire.
The authorities then learned that James was born James Beaudoin II and had some criminal history in Florida. He was then taken in by Jeffrey Rackover, who also lived in the same apartment complex. The police found Joey’s bloody clothes, license, credit cards, and a necklace tossed in the trash. James’ apartment had blood spatter and signs that bleach was used to get rid of the blood on the clothing.
Furthermore, license plate readers picked up James’ car leaving New York City at around 9:45 PM on November 13, 2016 and going to New Jersey. It was seen coming back at about 3 AM on November 14. James then left the vehicle at a garage a few minutes later. With plenty of evidence pointing to James’ guilt in addition to Larry’s confession, the authorities charged them with murder. Max was not accused of the murder but later pled guilty to hindering prosecution and tampering with physical evidence.
Where Are Larry Dilione and James Rackover Now?
James was the first to be tried, standing trial in late 2018. The defense claimed that James only helped with moving the body, but Larry was the one who killed Joey. However, the prosecution presented a witness, Louis Ruggiero, a friend of James’. He claimed that James admitted to beating Joey unconscious and that he added, “I got my own licks in there. And I didn’t want a dead body in my apartment. So I slit his throat.” After that, Louis said James confessed to disposing of the body.
Ultimately, James was found guilty of second-degree murder, concealing a human corpse, and tampering with evidence. Then about 27 years old, he was sentenced to 28 and 2/3 years to life in prison. He remains incarcerated at the Attica Correctional Facility in Wyoming County, New York, and will be eligible for parole in 2045. In January 2019, Larry, then 30, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was later sentenced to 23 years behind bars. He is serving his sentence at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Larry will be eligible for release in 2037.
Read More: Where is Pat Comunale Now?