2018-06-20 / Front Page

25 Years To Life For Astoria Park Murder

By Liz Goff
An Astoria man was sentenced this week to 25-years-to life in prison for the brutal 2015 murder of a Croatian historian in Astoria Park.

Alexander Bonich, 54, of 42nd Street in Astoria, was convicted last month of second-degree murder, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon and tampering with evidence in the January 31, 2015 murder of William Klinger, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Brown said that Klinger and Bonich met years ago in Croatia and became fast friends. Klinger, 42, who lived in Italy, told Bonich he was interested in moving to New York City, and Bonich offered to help, Brown said.

Bonich told Klinger he had found him a job and a place to live and sold him an apartment in Astoria for $85,000 – but it was all a lie, according to Brown. There was no job waiting for Klinger when he arrived and the apartment he’d purchased was actually a place Bonich’s mother had rented.

The two men were walking to Astoria Park at 19th Street and 23rd Road on the afternoon of January 31, 2015 when Bonich suddenly shot Klinger in the back of the head. Klinger had no idea anything was amiss before the shooting, Brown said. Klinger fell to the ground and Bonich shot him again with an antique gun, Brown said. Bonich later told investigators that he got rid of the weapon by tossing it into the East River.

Klinger’s body was found inside Astoria Park with gunshot wounds to his 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, and cash, cell phone and an Italian passport when his body was found. He was also carrying receipts from two local stores he had patronized in the hours before his death.

Investigators visited the stores where they recovered surveillance footage that showed Klinger with another man, the sources said. Detectives at the 114th Precinct Squad reached out to Italian authorities who contacted Klinger’s wife and learned that Klinger 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.

The detectives went to Bonich’s residence at 25-66 42nd Street, where they recognized Bonich as the man shown in the surveillance footage with Klinger. He was tossing out Klinger’s belongings in front of the apartment building when the detectives arrived, police sources said.

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.  Bonich said Klinger was supposed to sell him some property in Italy, and when the deal fell through, the two men argued inside the Park where Bonich pulled an antique revolver and fatally shot Klinger.

“The shooter and the victim were friends, but that did not stop the defendant from first scamming the man out of tens of thousands of dollars and then viciously shooting him in the back,” Brown said.

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