Friday, May 2 marked four months since the death of landlord, Menachem “Max” Stark, a 39-year-old Hasidic real estate developer who was kidnapped, murdered and found smoldering in a dumpster in Great Neck, Long Island.
Since his murder, the story of Menachem Stark has only gotten more complicated and intense with many levels of intrigue building on one another. Most recently, it’s been reported that Stark’s alleged killer, a 26-year-old construction worker named Kendal Felix, was caught this week, and yet it seems as if his arrest is just another chapter in a still unfinished story. So, for those looking to understand (as best they can) what happened, here’s a timeline of the Menachem Stark case and what we know so far:
January 2: In the middle of a snowstorm, Stark is kidnapped outside his real estate office on Williamsburg’s Rutledge Street around 11:45 p.m. After fighting off his captors for about five minutes, he’s forced into a white mini-van.
January 3: Stark’s burned body is discovered by gas station employee Fernando Cerff in a dumpster in Great Neck, Long Island. Asphyxiation by suffocation is reported as the cause of death with no explanation as to whether Stark was burned before or after death.
January 4: According to Jewish tradition, Stark is buried soon after his body is found.
January 5: The Post makes headlines of its own by publishing a photo of Stark on its front page with a headline reading “Who Didn’t Want Him Dead?” The accompanying article goes into detail about the many enemies Stark had made among his tenants and creditors, stating that he was “up to his tuchus in debt.” On top of that, public records indicate that Stark owed tens of thousands of dollars in building violation fees. Still, city leaders, including Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams, Public Advocate Letitia James and members of the Hasidic community, criticize the Post for the supposedly anti-Semitic headline, insisting that Stark was an upstanding member of the Hasidic community. Later that day, the Post reports on the “harsh criticism” it received for its own harsh criticism of Stark. For our part, we thought the Post was just being the Post.
January 6: Word gets out that although Stark’s body was found in Long Island’s Nassau County, the murder trial will be held in Brooklyn and presided over by D.A. Ken Thompson. The same day, Stark’s family (he left behind a wife and seven children) offers a $25,000 reward to anyone with information leading to a break in the case.
January 8: The NYPD releases video surveillance that shows the suspects and their 2006 or 2007 Dodge Caravan waiting outside Stark’s office nearly six and a half hours before he was kidnapped.
January 12: The Post reports that a hidden cellphone with a GPS device was found attached to the bottom of Stark’s car and used to track his whereabouts. Police later confirm the presence of the tracker.
January 15: Thirteen days after his kidnapping and murder, police locate a van fitting the description of the one used to abduct Stark on a street in Brownsville.
January 21/January 23: An investigation into a bankruptcy case Stark was embroiled in (he and his business partner had recently defaulted on a $29 million loan) reveals that $1.7 million was improperly removed from an account controlled by Stark and his business partner, Israel Perlmutter.
January 29: According to the Post, the blood and DNA of Stark is found in the van discovered on January 15.
March 6: The Daily News reports that Stark took nearly $3.6 million dollars from his business, South Side Associates, to pay off his crippling debts.
March 12/March 13: A week later, Jewish political news website, jpupdates.com, reports that Stark posthumously won $18,000 in a charity raffle he entered a few months before his death. The winnings go to this family.
April 1: The Daily News comes across court records from the Brooklyn Surrogates’ Court indicating that Stark left no will. His widow is appointed administrator of his estate by the court.
April 30/May 1: 26-year-old Kendal Felix, a construction worker employed by a contractor Stark worked with in the past, is arrested and charged with second-degree murder and kidnapping. It’s reported that the Crown Heights resident may have targeted Stark simply because he was known to carry around large amounts of cash and not, as previously claimed, because one of Stark’s disgruntled creditors wanted to get even. The Times reports that Felix, a married father of two young children, has admitted his involvement in the crime along with another as-yet-unnamed individual. Police label the crime a “botched robbery” that led to the accidental death of Stark.
May 2: Felix doesn’t enter a plea during arraignment, meaning the case will go to trial, and is held without bail at a Brooklyn jail.
May 7: The Real Deal reports that the seven-story building at 100 S. 4th Street in Williamsburg that put Stark and his business partner $29 million dollars in debt, will be bought by Meadow Partners for $52 million dollars, closing a bankruptcy case Stark had been embroiled in for five years.
May 20: The Post reports that Stark’s 11-year-old son, Abraham, is robbed of his bike at knifepoint by three teens. The younger Stark isn’t harmed and the bike is later recovered.
We will update this article as more information becomes available about the case.
Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk