ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – One year ago today, on September 14, 2021, the first disturbing accusations came out from the District Attorney’s Office, claiming a Horseheads man and three others kidnapped, tortured, disfigured, and murdered a man from New York City.
In mid-September of 2021, the Chemung County District Attorney’s Office released the first of three indictments in connection to the case. Thomas Bovaird of Horseheads was accused of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering Juan Jose Gotay of New York City. DA Weeden Wetmore confirmed in a 2021 press conference that Gotay knew his alleged murderers.
Less than a week later, two more indictments followed, this time against two men from Ontario County in the Finger Lakes. Eddie Marte and Malik Weems both faced similar charges to Bovaird.
They were also accused of kidnapping another man and holding him for ransom for more than 12 hours in Chemung County in April of 2021. Later that month, Weems and Marte were arrested for a separate kidnapping-torture case in Geneva, along with a 62-year-old man who has not been named in connection to the Gotay murder.
The indictments alleged that Gotay was kidnapped in January 2021. In early April, his body was found dumped over an embankment in Potter County, Pennsylvania. The DA’s Office said Gotay was left in Potter County in January while he was still alive. A month later, police were seen combing through two homes on Elmira’s southside which were later confirmed to be connected to the case.
However, at the time when Gotay’s body was discovered and police searched the homes, it was unknown that the incidents were related. The DA’s office was also unable to confirm why the houses on Partridge Street and West Ave. were chosen.
Four days after Marte and Weems were indicted, an unnamed 17-year-old in Georgia was arrested for the kidnapping and death of Gotay. According to officials, he was only 16 at the time of the kidnapping.
Later in the summer of 2022, the Partridge Street home—which had been boarded up and posted—was sold for $26,000 in the Chemung County Tax Foreclosed Real Estate Auction.
Since the four men were accused, there have been few updates or new details on the case. Over the last year, Bovaird, Weems, and Marte have appeared in court—virtually or in person—multiple times.
Bovaird’s case was adjourned in March 2022 to allow the chance for a possible plea deal. However, in August 2022, the DA’s Office said that Bovaird’s case was again delayed until September 16 at the request of the defense counsel.
Weems is scheduled to appear in court again on September 23 and Marte on September 30.