ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The first man accused of the gruesome torture-murder case in Chemung County has pleaded guilty to murder and is headed to prison.

Thomas Bovaird pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree Murder on June 8, 2023 in the Chemung County Court, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Bovaird has also agreed to a sentence of 18 years to life in prison. He will officially be sentenced on September 8, 2023.

Thomas Bovaird
Thomas Bovaird

Bovaird is the second man in the case to plead guilty to murdering Juan Jose Gotay from New York City in January 2021. In May 2023, Malik Weems pleaded guilty to 2nd-degree Murder for the torture case, as well as pleaded guilty to kidnapping someone in Geneva.

These guilty pleas came almost two years after the first accusations and more than three years after the crime. Both Bovaird and Weems, as well as Eddie Marte and an unidentified minor, were all accused of kidnapping, torturing, and disfiguring Gotay in early 2021.

They then dumped Gotay’s body in a remote part of Potter County, Pa., but it wasn’t found until April.

A month later, police were seen raiding two houses on Elmira’s southside, but the dots still hadn’t been connected.

Finally, in September 2021, the four men were accused and appeared in court, piecing together the puzzle of the last nine months. Since then, few, if any, new details came to light in the case, despite many court appearances from the suspects.

Eddie Marte pleaded guilty to kidnapping, robbery, burglary, weapons possession, and drug possession for the April 2021 Geneva case. He is currently in Attica Correctional Facility.

Two of the four suspects have now pleaded guilty. WETM will continue to follow this story as more updates become available.