MIDDLETOWN, New York (WABC) -- A retired police officer is accused of killing four men who went missing during a drug deal this year, and now, a relative of the victims is speaking out.
Authorities discovered the remains of four bodies on an Otisville property linked to Nicholas Tartaglione, was is charged with murder and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Prosecutors said Tartaglione participated in the killing of Martin Luna, Urbano Santiago, Miguel Luna and Hector Gutierrez in April in and around a bar called the Likquid Lounge in Chester while conspiring to sell cocaine. They said some of the victims were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Martin Luna's brother, who is also the father of Miguel Luna, said that until Tuesday, they had hope that their loved ones would return. He said his son-in-law was also killed, as was a friend.
The bodies were found bags in the woods of a 160-acre farm that had been rented by Tartaglione.
The family member said he didn't know what happened, adding the claim by police that his brother may have been involved in drug trafficking comes as a complete surprise. He said Martin Luna ran a roofing business and that the men were lured to the bar under the guise of inspecting a roof.
The victims vanished and the case seemingly went cold, until Tartaglione was arrested Monday.
The 49-year-old retired cop, who told neighbors he was running an animal sanctuary, could now be facing the death penalty.
Relatives of the victims have a somber task Thursday, when they will head to the hospital to identify the bodies, which will then be returned to Mexico for burial.