Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jon Laubach: Death of a Chelsea Businessman

Dangerous Companions

The building at 212 W. 22nd St. where John Laubach lived and died. Photo: Google maps.

Friends and neighbors knew that John Laubach preferred younger men, especially tough guys with an aura of danger about them. He’d often help these men out, offering them food and clothing and even cash.

His neighbors weren’t always comfortable seeing these guys passing through their hallways, both Georgie Lopez and an anonymous West 22nd Street resident told the New York Post. They thought the men Laubach brought home were thugs.

It sounds like a terrible cliché, and it should be offensive: Sometimes older, affluent people are made uncomfortable when they think younger, poorer, darker people are getting too close to their world. But in February of 2012, Laubach confirmed his neighbors’ suspicions when he said that he thought two men had been stealing from him, and he warned neighbors to be careful. After Laubach’s death a neighbor would report this conversation to police and described two men for a police sketch artist.

Police now think that these thieves were Edwin Faulkner and Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera.

Two weeks before Laubach died, Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera are believed to have sold some of his jewelry at a 7th Avenue pawn shop. According to the clerk, they brazenly revealed that they filched the goods from a man who had paid them to have sex with him. They even promised to come back with more. Unsurprisingly, the clerk called the police.

Despite the warning to his neighbor, if Laubach thought that Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera were stealing from him—and the investigation suggests that they did—he doesn’t seem to have been greatly disturbed by that: He let them into his apartment on March 2, 2012.

That was the day that Laubach was found dead. And it was the same day that Faulkner and Martinez-Herrera returned to that pawn shop.

The Crime

ATM surveillance footage released by police in hopes of locating a suspect.

On March 2, 2012, John Laubach had dinner plans with his best friend. When Laubach didn’t answer his phone all day, she knocked on his apartment door, then let herself in with the keys that Laubach had given her.

She found him dead. He was bound with electrical cord and duct tape and tied to his bed. He wore only a white t-shirt, and there was a towel draped over his face. The cause of Labach’s death hasn’t yet been officially released to the press, but he’s believed to have died of asphyxiation.

Bolo the cockatoo was fine. Officers responding to Laubach’s friend’s 911 call took the bird to Animal Care & Control and the investigation began.

The apartment was a ransacked mess. A laptop, an ATM card, and some jewelry were missing. But this didn’t seem to be a break-in: Whoever killed and robbed Laubach either had a key or had been freely let in to the apartment.

Laubach had a type, and common sense doesn’t seem to have been on the list of traits he demanded in a partner. It was remarkably easy for detectives to pinpoint their suspects, and despite a flight down the eastern seaboard, to catch up with and capture them. Did the perpetrators think they could get away with it? Or did they assume they’d end up back in jail and not really care? Or were they just too stupid to orchestrate a crime any better than this?

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