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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Wife Charged in Emigre's Axe Murder

MINEOLA, New York -- A Russian emigr? has been charged with taking part in the axe-murder of her husband, a renowned scientist whose body was cut into pieces and dumped in a New Jersey river.


Documents filed Thursday in U.S. federal court allege that Rita Gluzman, 47, planned the slaying of her estranged husband, Yakov Gluzman, to gain control of a company they jointly owned.


The complaint is based in part on an FBI interview with her cousin, Vladimir Zelenin, who alleged that he was enlisted by Mrs. Gluzman to help carry out the April 6 killing.


The couple were in divorce proceedings, and Mrs. Gluzman allegedly feared she would lose her stake in the East Rutherford-based ECI Technology Inc., a business she ran that makes equipment for companies that manufacture electronic circuit boards.


Gluzman, who has denied any involvement in the murder, was scheduled to be arraigned Friday on a charge of interstate travel in connection with domestic violence. She lives in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey; her estranged husband was killed at his home in Rockland County, New York.


Gluzman was charged under a federal statute that makes it a crime to travel across state lines with intent to injure, harass or intimidate a spouse or partner. If convicted, she could face life in prison.


Zelenin said he and Gluzman traveled to the scientist's apartment and killed him with two axes when he arrived home, the complaint alleged.


"Yakov Gluzman fell to the floor after Zelenin initially struck him on the head with one axe, after which Rita Gluzman struck Yakov Gluzman several times with another ax," the complaint said.


After the murder, she cleaned the apartment while he cut the body into pieces using the axes and a knife in the apartment's bathroom. They both placed the pieces into plastic bags, Zelenin told investigators.


Zelenin was arrested when an officer found him dumping body parts into the Passaic River behind the Gluzmans' company. They found two axes, a knife, a hacksaw, a scalpel, bandages and latex gloves with blood on them in his car, the complaint said.


Gluzman was arrested by FBI agents Thursday after she was released on $250,000 bond from the county jail, where she had been held on a burglary charge.


Zelenin, 40, of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, pleaded innocent Thursday to murder and conspiracy and was held without bail. The Gluzmans, both Soviet emigres, married in 1969. Gluzman filed for divorce in December, complaining in court papers of his wife's lavish spending. She, in turn, accused him of having an affair.


Yakov Gluzman worked with Nobel Prize-winning biologist James Watson, co-discoverer of the molecular structure of DNA.