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A 27-year-old Ridgewood man was charged with suffocating his mother’s live-in boyfriend and burying his remains in the couple’s backyard in Ridgewood, the Queens district attorney said Thursday.
Derek Tudor turned himself into authorities Wednesday after investigators unearthed the body of Frank Soucie, 60, who had been reported missing, police said.
Soucie was found buried in a shallow grave on Putnam Avenue behind his residence late Tuesday after neighbors saw Tudor placing suspiciously large garbage bags in the trash, according to authorities.
Tudor was charged with second-degree murder after he was kept in custody as a person of interest, the DA’s office said. He was held without bail and could face up to 25 years to life in prison if found guilty.
“The defendant is accused of suffocating his mother’s boyfriend during an argument that turned physical and deadly,” DA Richard Brown said in a statement.
The murder took place sometime between April 21 and April 28, according to the criminal charges.
Tudor lived with his mother, Stephanie Verni, 54, in Souci’s Putnam Avenue apartment and she notified authorities that her boyfriend disappeared on April 22, the DA said.
Neighbors gathered on front porches said Soucie referred to Tudor as his stepson.
When the retired postal worker disappeared, neighbors on the tight-knit block said they suspected the worst.
“We knew he wasn’t missing,” said neighbor Debbie Webster. “We knew that something had happened.”
Another neighbor, Emma Alameda, said Tudor had been acting strangely earlier that day, walking into her apartment uninvited Tuesday afternoon. He requested access to the fire escape so that he could get into his locked apartment.
She also witnessed him placing large garbage bags outside in the trash.
“I called 911 because I knew something was wrong,” she said. “It was too strange.”
Another neighbor said that when he investigated the trash bags, he found a burned sleeping bag stuffed inside. He said the discovery gave him pause because he knew Soucie was an avid camper.
“I opened it up and it smelled like chemicals,” said Raymond Velez, 44. “Frank was a really nice guy. This is a crazy situation.”
Neighbors said Verni and Tudor moved into the Ridgewood apartment not long after Soucie’s first wife died about eight years ago. They said Soucie’s two sons from his first marriage, Frank Jr. and Timothy, moved out after numerous clashes with Verni and her son.
“Everyone on this block is very close. We all look out for each other,” said neighbor Anne Marie Mandala, who said she had known Soucie since she was a young girl. “The new woman and her son, they were never friendly. You could tell something was off with them.”
All of Soucie’s neighbors remembered him as a kind and interesting man, always sitting outside listening to his radio and ready to talk about anything at all.
“He always talked about things that made you think,” said Webster. “We loved listening to his theories on life.”
Webster said she and other neighbors would like one last moment with the suspect who allegedly ended their beloved friend’s life.
“Bring this person to the block. And make him face the people that knew this man,” she said. “It’s just despicable. He didn’t deserve this.”
Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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