2015-02-11 / Front Page

Cops: Astoria Man Killed Scholar Over Failed Real Estate Deal

BY LIZ GOFF

Detectives at the 114th Precinct Squad last week unraveled events leading to the murder of a 42-year-old Croatian scholar whose body was discovered on January 31, near the pool at Astoria Park.

Cops said William Klinger was found inside Astoria Park near 24th Street and 19th Avenue with gunshot wounds to the head and neck.

“He was found face down in the snow by two young ladies who were in the park with their children,” law enforcement sources said.

Klinger had his wallet, credit cards, cash, cell phone and an Italian passport when his body was found, the sources said. He was also carrying receipts from two local stores he had patronized in the hours before his death, the sources said.

The detectives later visited the stores, where they recovered surveillance footage that showed Klinger with another man, the sources said.

Investigators reached out to Italian authorities who contacted Klinger’s wife and learned that he had arrived in New York on January 24 to speak at a conference in Manhattan – and that he planned to stay with a friend in Astoria, law enforcement sources said.

The detectives went to the friend’s residence at 25-66 42nd Street, where they recognized Alexander Bonich, 49, as the man shown in the surveillance footage with Klinger, and brought him to the 114th Precinct Squad for questioning, the sources said.

Law enforcement sources said Bonich, a Croatian native who works as a translator, told investigators  he was hired by Klinger to find him jobs lecturing on the history of the former Yugoslavia.

Bonich initially told investigators he acted in self defense when he shot Klinger and later said he killed Klinger when he became enraged over a failed real estate deal, the sources said. Bonich said Klinger was supposed to sell him some property in Italy, the sources said. When the deal fell through, the two men argued inside the Park and Bonich pulled an antique revolver and fatally shot Klinger.

Bonich was charged with murder, criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence after police caught him tossing out Klinger’s belongings in front of the apartment, law enforcement sources said.

Bonich told detectives he dumped the weapon into the East River near the Roosevelt Island bridge after the murder, the sources said. NYPD Harbor Patrol police are waiting for the recent frigid temperatures to break before searching the river for the gun, law enforcement sources said.

Bonich was held without bail at his arraignment at Queens Criminal Court. He is facing life in prison, if convicted.

 

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