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Arrest Made in Hamburg Toys R' Us Murder

10:34 PM, Oct 17, 2013   |    comments
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HAMBURG, N.Y. -- Hamburg Police have confirmed that a suspect has been arrested in connection with the murder of 35-year-old Larry Wells inside a Hamburg Toys R' Us.

Bernard Grucza, 38, has been charged with second degree murder in connection to the murder.  Grucza pleaded not guilty at his arraignment late Wednesday. He is currently being held without bail.  His next court date is Friday.

Hamburg investigators say Grucza is a regional manager for Toys R' Us, and is believed to still be employed by the company.

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"It's why we do the job," said Kevin Trask, a captain in the Hamburg Police Department. "There were several pieces of evidence that started to connect him."

Police searched a home owned by Grucza on Kettle Run in Elma, as well as a home in the Village of Allegany in connection to the arrest.

Hamburg Police say Grucza has a previous domestic charge in Elma.

Wells was found stabbed to death inside the manager's office at the store during the early morning hours of June 29, 2013.

"Please bear in mind that Mr. Grucza has the right to due process and is assumed innocent until proven guilty," Trask said. "On the advice of the Erie County District Attorney's office, we would like to refrain from answering questions that may hinder the prosecution."

A close friend of the victim, who requested anonymity, said that while the arrest does not bring him back, she's happy to hear an arrest has been made.

"It definitely helps with the devastation," the friend said. "It does give some kind of closure. You don't have to wonder where this (suspect) is."

Thursday night, Toys R' Us released this statement:

TOYS"R"US, INC. STATEMENT

"We are grateful to the Town of Hamburg Police Department and other law enforcement agencies for their diligence and commitment to this investigation. We will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement officials in seeking justice for Larry, his family, and all who loved him."

Dave McKinley went back out to the Elma house Thursday, and he spoke with a relative who told him she was there to watch the couple's children while their mother met with police.

She says the Grucza's split up about month or two before the Toys R' Us homicide, and that outside the domestic incident which happened three weeks before the murder, haven't had much to do with each other since.

She also told McKinley that while you never know what someone may be capable of, the family is of course shocked by all of this.

Grucza's attorney, Frank Housh, told us Thursday that "My client has been charged with a serious crime. We're evaluating the evidence, and his not guilty plea speaks for itself."

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