Motivational speaker Jeff Locker phoned his wife at their suburban home Wednesday night, telling her he had a flat tire and he'd be a little late. When he didn't return, she called police.
Locker was found hours later, bound and stabbed to death in his car near a city housing project in a possible botched robbery.
Now, police are trying to determine what he was doing in the area so they can track his killer.
Locker, who offered workshops on dealing with workplace issues and had recent financial troubles, told his wife that two people helped him with the flat on his midsize station wagon and that he was going to drop them off before returning home, possibly from New Jersey, police said. But it didn't appear the car, a 2007 Dodge Magnum, had a flat tire when it was discovered in East Harlem near the Wagner Houses, a 22-building complex with about 5,000 residents.
Investigators also were looking to talk to witnesses who told reporters that they saw Locker at a nearby deli buying condoms and bottled water around 3 a.m. Thursday and that they had seen the car there before.
Locker, 52, was found with his hands bound behind his back with an electrical cord. He died from multiple stab wounds to the chest, with injuries to his heart, lung, liver and aorta, the medical examiner's office said. Police wouldn't say why they believed it was a possible robbery.
Hired to speak
Locker's wife, Lois Locker, left their Long Island home early Friday without speaking to reporters. She previously referred reporters to her husband's Web site, which describes him as dedicated to "bringing spirituality into the business world."
Jeff Locker, who had three children, offered workshops on dealing with stress, frustration and anxiety in the workplace.
Major companies around the country hired him to speak, the site says. He also co-authored a spiritual self-help novel called "Teachings for a New World" and was a radio talk show host, it says.
"Jeff finds balance in his life by being an avid golfer and a devoted, participating father to his two sons and his little princess," the site says.
But Locker, who lived in North Woodmere, also apparently had serious legal troubles.
A federal bankruptcy court trustee in Florida sued Locker in April, identifying him as one of the investors who profited from a giant Ponzi scheme run by Louis Pearlman, the impresario who created boy bands 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.
The trustee demanded that Locker give back at least $121,200 of about $373,000 in bogus profits.
Locker said in a response filed in May that he categorically denied "all aspects" of the suit and had no way of repaying the money.
"I would be forced to declare bankruptcy," he said then. "I am severely in credit card debt and my business is just paying my family's bills."
He added that he was "mortified" to have been accused of knowingly participating in a Ponzi scheme.
"I trust that the court will honor this answer to the complaint based on the facts presented herein so that I can get on with my life."
The case was pending.