Body Found Behind Old Drive-In On Route 59 in Monsey


monsey-policeA man’s body was found Shabbos morning in the back of the old Rockland Drive-In movie theater on Route 59, and Ramapo police are investigating the case as an apparent homicide. Shortly after 11 a.m., a police officer on duty for a safety road check on Route 59 was approached by an individual who told him that a person was in need of help in the back of the drive-in theater, Ramapo police Detective Lt. Brad Weidel said. Amid overgrown weeds and near abandoned trailers and a homeless encampment, the officer discovered the body of a white male, who appeared to be in his 50s, Weidel said.

The body had suffered a blunt-force trauma to the head, said Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence, who was at the scene yesterday.

Paul Rizzo, a homeless man interviewed by a Ramapo police detective at the scene, said he knew the victim.

“His name was John,” Rizzo said. “I don’t remember his last name.”

He was one of the homeless people who lived in the area, Rizzo said, and appeared to be an immigrant from Eastern Europe, perhaps Russia or Poland.

The former drive-in theater site was once discussed as a possible home for a Wal-Mart store, but the developer walked away after meeting opposition.

The theater, which closed decades ago, still has its trademark sign, but years of neglect has left it worn and rusted.

The Police Department tentatively scheduled a press conference for today to discuss the incident.

An autopsy was scheduled for yesterday evening, which would formally determine if the death was a homicide.

If so, the death would be the first homicide in Ramapo this year, and apparently Rockland’s first as well.

St. Lawrence, who is also chairman of the Ramapo Police Commission, said the incident may have happened Friday night, although more details would become available after the autopsy.

“There’s a little homeless camp set up right there,” St. Lawrence said at the scene. “We’re looking to see what identity we can find on the victim. At this time, it does appear to be a homicide.”

Ramapo police are investigating the case with the Rockland County Sheriff’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation, assisted by the Rockland County District Attorney’s Office. The Monsey Fire Department responded to the scene to help take pictures from its ladder truck.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Ramapo police at 845-357-2400 and speak with officers at the Detective Bureau.

{The Record/ Newscenter}