Who killed Charles Zolot? NYC divorce lawyer, 65, found beaten to death in office
QUEENS, NEW YORK CITY: A Queens divorce lawyer was found beaten to death in his office on Thursday morning, August 5, after allegedly being threatened by a client the night before.
Charles Zolot, 65, was found murdered in a pool of blood with "trauma to his face" and "puncture wounds to his chest", according to the New York Police Department. A maintenance mechanic found the body at 5.50 am in the second-floor office at 37-06 82nd St in Jackson Heights. He said that he called 911, but Zolot was declared dead at the scene. Police have said they have recovered security footage from the office which may show a possible suspect, but the video has not been released and the suspect has not been named yet. Lawyers who worked in the same building have claimed that a client had threatened him just a day before. Zolot was scheduled to represent a client in a preliminary conference at the Queens Supreme Court on Thursday, August 5.
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A resident working at another law office in the building who wanted to remain unnamed said that his dog had found red droplets near the building's lift the evening before, but he didn't pay attention to it and thought it's some juice. He said: "I bring my dog to work sometimes and I had my dog here yesterday. Around 4.30, she wanted to go outside. When we got to the elevator, she was looking at something on the floor like she wanted to lick it." "I was like "that looks like blood, wouldn’t that be crazy? But it’s probably just juice. One of the secretaries in the office saw the four or five drops and asked me if I thought it was blood - I said that I thought it was juice. When I got a text saying Charlie was dead this morning, I thought it was a heart attack - then someone told me he was murdered." The tenant also revealed that neither he nor any other worker of the building heard anything out of the ordinary.
"Sounds like a disgruntled client. They think that someone came in last night and I think one of the secretaries was afraid of this guy. From what I hear, he came in with his brother I think. Charlie took him up to the office and never came down. I think the secretaries are really upset by it. We have cameras on the floors and we were asked for that, so I think that they have pictures of what's going on," Mark Drucker, a lawyer who owns a firm in the same building, told FNTV. Drucker added that he was in the building at the time, but didn't hear any noise or disturbance.
Zolot's friend and tailor Horacio Navas, 70, said: "The maintenance guy told me he came in this morning and saw a pool of blood and followed it and that’s when he found his body beaten to death. I don’t know why anyone would want to do this to him," Navas told New York Post. "The neighborhood is changing. This would never happen here (before)."
Zolot was not married and did not have any children. Another person who works in the building described him as an "almost retired bachelor". "I was referring him business - most lawyers are really expensive and Charles was probably the most reasonable rate of any lawyer in Jackson Heights," another attorney working out of the building said. "A lot of immigrants and crazy kinds of cases - typically a lower-middle-class clientele." The attorney added that Zolot typically worked till late at night and that to get into the building without a key, a person needs to be buzzed in or to sneak in after someone else leaves.
Drucker added: "As a lawyer, you're always afraid of some clients that could get really upset with you, and we're living in a very crazy time when people get very agitated very quickly." According to Zolot's website, he specialized in divorce and child custody cases. He completed his graduation from Syracuse University college of Law in 1981, and had been practicing in New York since the following year, records show.