Murdered Ditmas Park cafe owner Josh Rubin may have been moonlighting as a drug dealer — and might have even known his killer.
So say authorities here and in the Keystone State who continue to disagree on where exactly the well-liked businessman was fatally shot before being set on fire and dumped off a remote Pennsylvania road less than a day after leaving his Kensington home on Halloween.
Neither the NYPD nor the South Whitehall Police Department can say where Rubin was killed or why it took investigators nearly two months to identify his charred remains, even though he was found less than two hours from Brooklyn. Rubin was last seen leaving his apartment on Lawrence Avenue on Oct. 31 around 9 pm.
The NYPD says the investigation belongs in Lehigh County, Pa. but Keystone cops refute that.
“The speculation is that the homicide occurred somewhere else and the body was dumped here,” said David Gross, a spokesman for the South Whitehall Police Department.
But the NYPD disagrees.
“His body was found in Pennsylvania, that’s where the investigation is right now,” said an NYPD spokesman.
A separate NYPD source, a high-ranking official who requested anonymity, said his department believes that Rubin might have been familiar with his assassin.
“It looks like [the killer] was definitely somebody that knew him,” said the official. “He was trying to get money and may have been involved with [the wrong crowd] to make a couple of bucks.”
Rubin, whose first rent payment on his struggling Whisk Bakery Café was due on the same day that his body was found in an apple orchard in southeastern Pennsylvania — was trying to unload large amounts of marijuana on friends, according to the New York Post, which also reported that Rubin owed $14,000 to creditors and that his credit card was used at a New York mall the day after his body was found.
Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin said Rubin was in debt, but disputed the $20,000 figure coined last week by the New York Times.
“That’s a mistake,” he said. “He owed some rent to his landlord, I believe for the cafe [but] I don’t know exactly what that amount was.”
Pennsylvanian authorities found Rubin within the 48-hour window that investigators say is crucial to solving a crime, but were unable to make a positive identification until a DNA match was made last week. Several police sketches on what Rubin could have looked like before he was burned were distributed in the hope that someone would recognize him, but no one did.
Rubin, who hailed from Rhode Island, was recalled as being jittery in the hours before he vanished, according to regulars who saw him outside his cafe chain-smoking and talking on the phone.
“I saw him that evening looking very upset,” said a resident of the co-op above the cafe, who would only identify herself as Eileen. “He couldn’t even talk to me.”
Residents set up an altar of candles and flowers outside the Whisk Cafe on Thursday to remember Rubin.
“He had a really great smile and created a wonderful cafe,” said Elsa Alverio, who stopped by the memorial. “I just don’t see how someone like this would be murdered.”