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Kew Gardens jeweler murdered in Texas: Cops

Zerovabeli, 38, of Queens Boulevard, was allegedly shot...

By Jennifer Warren

Majid Zerovabeli, a jeweler who lived in Kew Gardens, was murdered in Texas two weeks ago while on a buying trip and a business associate has confessed to the crime last week, Texas police said.

Zerovabeli, 38, of Queens Boulevard, was allegedly shot and killed by business associate Alex Torres after the two had a dispute in the MRT Jewelry Store in Seguin, Texas, 30 miles east of San Antonio, said Lt. Mike Rosas of the Seguin Police Department.

Torres confessed when he submitted to a polygraph test, telling investigators that Zerovabeli had made an insulting remark that angered him and prompted him to shoot the Kew Gardens jeweler, Rosas said.

After he confessed, Torres brought officials to his farm, 10 miles outside Seguin, where he had buried Zerovabeli’s body about 200 yards from his house, Rosas said. At that time Torres also led police to the murder weapon, a 380 semi-automatic pistol, and the jewelry he took from his victim, the officer said.

Zerovabeli, a salesman for the Manhattan-based H.J. Namdar Jewelers, had arrived in Houston on Feb. 19 for a short buying trip and planned to purchase jewelry from Torres.

On Feb. 21 Zerovabeli was expected to meet or call his nephew in Houston after a 4:30 p.m. business appointment in Seguin. But his call never came. Nor did he contact his wife Monika, who then filed a missing persons report with New York City police.

Tracing calls made on Zerovabeli’s cellular phone, investigators in the Seguin Police Department determined that Zerovabeli had telephoned Torres before their scheduled meeting, said Rosas.

When Torres was initially questioned by lead investigator Mike Watts, he said Zerovabeli had arrived, purchased jewelry and then left, Rosas said. And when they asked Torres to take a polygraph, he was more than willing.

“Torres and his wife were real cooperative. Real agreeable,” said Rosas. But since there were not any polygraph operators available to administer the test, they had to wait.

During that time, the search for the missing jeweler continued with the help of local police, the Texas Rangers, the FBI, as well as a close network of Zerovabeli’s friends and family. The family, Rosas said, enlisted the help of search dogs and chartered a private helicopter to sweep the vast stretch of Interstate 20, which would have taken two days to cover by car.

Describing the family’s direct involvement with the search for Zerovabeli’s, Rosas said, “if you can imagine being in a close family — this would be the ideal family,” he said. “There were a lot of people looking for this young man.”

An hour after Torres confessed, Rosas informed a rabbi and a family friend who were in the station house. “They started crying, went and started praying,” Rosas said.

Because the state of Texas does not have arraignments, Torres was to be held in the Guadeloupe County Jail until March 5, when he was scheduled to go before the Guadeloupe County grand jury. If District Attorney W.C. Kirkendall decides to upgrade the case to capital murder, Torres could face the death sentence, Rosas said.

The Zerovabeli family and the owners of H.J. Namdar Jewelers had no comment.

Reach reporter Jennifer Warren by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 155.

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