---update Sept. 2008:
Marash Gojcaj, the nephew and business partner of Zef Vulevic at the Danbury Gusto Ristorante was charged with the murder of the popular chef and restaurateur. He was taken into custody on August 19th, 2008 after his release from the Westchester County Correctional Center where he was being held on a drunken driving conviction. This was over four years after the April 2004 murder.
On September 4, 2008 in Danbury Superior Court a 57-page arrest warrant charging Marash Gojcaj, 32, with the murder of his uncle was made public. The warrant was based on testimony from several anonymous witnesses, including restaurant employees and an alleged organized crime informant.
The Murder of Chef Zef Vulevic
The Murder of Chef Zef Vulevic
Vulevic's Family and Business connections:
Zef Vulevic is from a first generation Albanian Family.
Albanian culture, has a centuries-old code of law known as the Kanun. This "law" would require Vulevic's family to avenge his death by killing any male member of the family of the person responsible for his death. The Kanun sounds like the Albanian version of the Italian vendetta.
Vendetta: A feud between two families or clans that arises out of a slaying and is perpetuated by retaliatory acts of revenge; a blood feud.
Four Brothers of Zef Vulevic (aka Zef Vulaj and Joe Vuli and "Gusto") :
Nick Vulaj (older brother-reported him missing on 10-Apr)
Paul Vulaj (older brother-owned Fino Restaurant with Zef since 1985)
Martin Vulaj (younger brother, 39)
Mary - son: Marash Gojcaj
One brother works at the Fino Wall Street Restaurant:Pietro Vuli has over thirty years experience in building successful restaurants in New York City"
Vulevic Family Restaurants:
- Gusto Ristorante (opened April 26, 2003)
Vulevic's business partner and nephew- Marash Gojcau
275 Main Street
- Fortuna Ristorante
1 Baltic Place
- Baci Ristorante
154 Larchmont Avenue
- Vuli (revolving restaurant atop Stamford Marriott Hotel-opened summer of 2000 with brother Paul)
2 Stamford Forum
- Fino Restaurant, Manhattan (Zef Vulevic owned with his brother Paul since 1985)
4 East 36th St, New York, NY
- Fino Wall Street Ristorante Italiano-lower Manhattan
1 Wall Street Court, New York, NY
- Vuli Restaurant, Manhattan- lost its lease last month and closed
134 E 48th St, New York, NY
Opinion of several observers of this case: brutal method in which Vulevic's body was disposed of looked like a mob killing
Frances Trix, an associate professor of anthropology at Wayne State University in Michigan and author of the book, "Albanians in Michigan," agreed.NY Times reports:
"I have never heard of a dismemberment in the Albanian community," she said. "It sounds more like a mob killing. Dismemberment is dishonorable and Albanians treat bodies with great respect."
Martin Vulaj (Zef Vulevic's younger brother) thinks the police should be looking at former employees of his brother. His brother was a tough boss who antagonized employees with his fiery temper.
Mr. Gojcaj, the business partner, told the police that Mr. Vulevic had left the restaurant alone that night, the police have said. Mr. Vulaj said yesterday that an employee had corroborated Mr. Gojcaj's account....additionally last Monday:
The two business partners were extremely close, Mr. Vulaj said.
"Marash has really had a bad run," Mr. Vulaj said. "His father died of cancer 10 days before Joe, who was a second father to him, disappeared."...
a part-time bartender at Gusto's, whom they declined to identify, was hospitalized after being struck by a car...the employee had been run over five times by the car, which then dragged him 50 feet.Chef's slaying highlights gap [TheJournalNews, May 2, 2004]
Slain Chef's Temper Angered Many Workers, Brother Says [NY Times, May 1, 2004]
For a Family of Albanians in America, an Immigrant Dream Dies With a Brother [NY Times, May 8, 2004]