about Jeff Locker’s doings on the night of the murder and about his family, though there’s still not enough known for a coherent account of what happened.For example, if he called his wife from his car at 10:15 p.m., why was he buying condoms at 3 a.m.? What was he doing during all the hours in-between? Had he been with his girlfriend for four hours, ran out of prophylactics (as we used to call them), and went out for a new supply? And why would Locker make a series of calls to his girlfriend’s apartment? Presumably he had gone there to get together with her. Maybe she was otherwise occupied. Or perhaps the series of calls took place between 10:15 p.m. and 3 a.m., in which case he was cooling his heels on the streets of East Harlem for several hours waiting to see his lady friend.
Secret life of motivation man: Mystery swirls around death of Jeffrey Locker
BY Alison Gendar, Zak Failla and Larry Mcshane
Saturday, July 18th 2009, 4:00 AM
Just last month, a beaming Jeffrey Locker—devoted dad, beloved husband and successful entrepreneur—welcomed guests to his daughter’s Long Island bat mitzvah.
“I’d never met a more devoted family,” recalled longtime friend Steve D’Annunzio, one of many delighted guests. “He was a huge family man.”
Barely a month after his 13- year-old’s coming of age, Locker was discovered far from the family home—strangled and stabbed in his late-model car in an East Harlem housing project.
It was a gruesome death, incongruous with his American-as-apple-pie life: wife and kids, successful career, nice house in the ‘burbs.
The slaying Thursday came with sordid speculation of a double life and dark secrets. A local teen said Locker bought a box of condoms at a nearby deli around 3 a.m.
Another resident said Locker’s 2007 Dodge Magnum was regularly seen in East Harlem. Police trying to determine whether the revered motivational speaker was a regular customer of a Wagner Houses hooker.
Police sources said the 52- year-old victim withdrew $200 cash from an ATM machine an hour before his purported visit to the Wagner Deli.
Investigators found evidence that Locker made a series of calls Wednesday night to a particular apartment in the housing project.
Whatever happened in his life, there was no disputing how Locker died: A cord was wrapped tightly around his neck and the car’s headrest.
Police suspect he was attacked by two killers—one in the backseat, another up front. One of them stabbed him, piercing his heart, lungs and liver and slicing his aorta.
A man and woman were later spotted using Locker’s ATM card to make seven $200 withdrawals, starting about 4:30 a.m. Thursday, police sources said.
It was all a far cry from the hopeful promise delivered on Locker’s Web site:
“Helping business people create more Peace, Joy and Fulfillment in all areas of their lives.”
The circumstances and seedy conjecture didn’t shake the faith of Locker’s family and friends, who remain convinced he was an innocent victim.
“Jeff was an extraordinarily spiritual man,” said Richard Pope, a Long Island businessman and family friend. “I’ve known him 3-1/2, 4 years.
“I’ve never seen him raise his voice. I’ve never seen him get angry.”
Locker’s wife, Lois, spoke to reporters outside the family’s spacious two-story home in Valley Stream, L.I. The home features a brick walkway and a well-kept yard. A Lexus was parked in the driveway.
“I wish you could talk to the hundreds and hundreds of people my husband has affected positively,” Lois Locker said. “Talk to them instead of reporting these innuendoes.”
To neighbors like Merri Tassett, Locker was a “hands-on dad” with a great sense of humor.
“He was a magician on the side,” said Tassett, a 22-year resident. “He would come to the classroom, and he made the kids laugh.”
Lois Locker was a PTA mom, and the couple remained in Long Island to stay close to her parents. “The apple-pie family—that’s them,” Pope said.
Locker had just returned from a vacation in Sedona, Ariz., with his two sons—one 16, the other 18, said D’Annunzio, a former business partner and his best friend of 26 years.
D’Annunzio said Locker was generous to a fault—picking up every check, even giving him $100 bills when times were tough.
News of Locker’s shocking slaying left some of his clients in tears. Many had come to rely on Locker for personal help after first seeking him out for business advice, D’Annunzio said.
Locker’s wife reported him missing Wednesday night when he failed to return after a trip into Manhattan. It was unclear why Locker was in East Harlem, an unlikely spot for business prospects.
Lois Locker told D’Annunzio that her husband had called home earlier, saying he’d stopped near the Triborough Bridge to help a driver with a flat tire.
“Lois told me he said, ‘I’m pulling off to the side of the road to help them,’” he said. [LA writes: This is different from the story in yesterday’s Post, which was based on police reports, which said that Locker told his wife that he, Locker, had the flat tire and was getting help from a man and woman. So either the Post’s police source messed it up, or the Post did.]
Typical, say friends who believe his death was a case of a nice guy in the wrong place with some very bad people.
“One of our thoughts is he must have tried to help somebody, and that got him in trouble,” Pope said. “He was such a giving, loving person.”
Lois Locker’s father, Irving Serota, remembered his son-in-law yesterday as “a great man and a perfectionist.”
Then he stepped into the family home with his daughter to make funeral plans.
With Jeff Wilkins