ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore, New York State Police, and other local law enforcement agencies are releasing new details on the kidnapping, mutilation, and murder of Juan Jose Gotay in the Chemung County Torture-Murder case.
Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore emphasized that the indictments are merely accusations against the four men.
According to Wetmore, the crimes initially started at 427 Partridge Street and then continued to 319 West Avenue. The actual murder of Jose Gotay occurred between January 29 and 30.
Wetmore said “we absolutely have motive,” but he can’t give a cause for the kidnapping and murder. He also said he believes Gotay was acquaintances with the men who were indicted, but he didn’t elaborate any further. He couldn’t provide any information on Gotay’s background, saying the details are relevant to the upcoming trials.
He also said there was no missing persons report or investigation leading up to when Gotay’s body was found in April bound by an electrical cord.
As for why the body was dumped in Potter County, Wetmore said the investigation didn’t look for a reason, “other than convenience” or due to the ruralness of the area.
He said all the evidence and “discovery material” is being gathered right now and that the cases have been adjourned to sometime in October and November.
Expecting the indictments to go to trial, Wetmore said the suspects could face life in prison. The minor that was indicted faces a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in prison, but he was indicted for second-degree murder, unlike the other three, who have all been indicted for first-degree murder.
Wetmore said 1122 South Main Street was the residence of Joseph Waters, who was allegedly kidnapped by Eddie Marte and Malik Weems in April around the time when Gotay’s body was found. The DA couldn’t give information as to why the other houses in Elmira were used. He also didn’t specify what connection the kidnapping of Waters had to Gotay’s murder.
The suspects will not be facing charges in Pennsylvania, according to Potter County District Attorney Andy Watson.
Watch the full press conference in the player below.
When asked about the increased violence in the Elmira area, specifically in an unprecedented case like this, Wetmore pointed to bail reform as a possible reason.
Elmira Police Chief Anthony Alvernaz added “there’s a level of fear within the community that, right now, criminals kind of have the upper hand. Not only in the neighborhoods but, I would say, with the actual criminal justice system here in New York, as well.”
He again emphasized the importance of the community doing “something scary” by coming forward with testimony about violent crime in Elmira.
In addition to bail reform, Alvernaz pointed to the “lack of parental guidance” or “fathers in the home” as a possible reason for the uptick in violence in the area.
As of Sunday, October 3, officials have announced four arrests in connection to Gotay’s kidnapping and murder: 21-year-old Thomas Bovaird of Horseheads, 18-year-old Malik Weems of Pittsburgh, 25-year-old Eddie Marte of New York City, and an unnamed 17-year-old male from Georgia who was 16 at the time of Gotay’s murder.
The four suspects are facing charges including murder, kidnapping, and assault.
According to Chemung County District Attorney Weeden Wetmore, Gotay was 38-years-old when he was kidnapped, tortured, mutilated, and left to die while bound by an electrical cord in rural Pennsylvania. Court documents show Gotay was kidnapped on or around Jan. 29 or 30, 2021, and State Police in Pennsylvania say his body was recovered along Route 6 in April.
Disclaimer: the following details may be disturbing for some readers.
While still living, Gotay was subjected to multiple traumatic injuries caused by his kidnappers, including gunshot wounds to his shoulder and leg; permanent and mutilating injuries to his eyes caused by a pointed instrument; burns that caused disfigurement to his ears and buttocks; mutilating injuries to his tongue, injuries to his jaw, mouth, and teeth caused by repeated kicking and beating; and multiple broken ribs and fingers.
An obituary could not be located for Gotay, nor were there any social media accounts that appeared to be his.
The case is connected to the New York State Police investigation at two homes on 427 Partridge St. and 319 West Ave in Elmira on May 5. During the investigation, investigators in white suits walked in and out of the homes and dug up the yards.
Weems and Marte were also arrested in connection to an armed kidnapping and torture case in the City of Geneva on April 27.
In the Ontario County case, Weems and Marte face kidnapping, burglary, and robbery charges. A third man, 62-year-old Thomas Ferraro, was arrested in connection to the Ontario County case but has not been named in connection to the Chemung County investigation.
Investigators say the Ontario County victim was punched and kicked in the face and torso, beaten with belts and cords, and burned with a hot knife. Police also found two handguns (one of which was stolen), one pound of crystal methamphetamine, an ounce of suspected cocaine, 1.4 pounds of heroin, and $5,000 cash. The drugs recovered in that investigation were valued at roughly $75,000 by police.
Marte and Weems were arrested in the Ontario County Jail in connection to the Chemung County case.
18 News will have more information on this story as it becomes available.