A 64-year-old dentist was stabbed to death early today in his Amherst home, and detectives late this morning were questioning an acquaintance for more information about the killing.
Amherst police at midmorning identified the victim as Dr. Joseph D. Matteliano, of 31 Kim Circle.
Detectives would not say whether the acquaintance, who voluntarily went to Police Headquarters with them, was considered a suspect in the killing.
"It's just somebody he knew that we wanted to talk to," Capt. Timothy Green said shortly before noon.
Officers responded to a 911 call at 2:33 a.m., apparently from the man who had been stabbed. Emergency crews from the Snyder Fire Department rushed to the scene, but they were unable to revive him.
Detectives began going door to door, to see whether any neighbors had heard anything or seen anyone fleeing from the scene. But they did not find any witnesses in their initial canvass of the area.
Amherst police called for Air One, the Erie County sheriff's helicopter, in an unsuccessful attempt to find the attacker in the neighborhood.
Kim Circle is just southeast of Maple Road and Millersport Highway, near the University at Buffalo's Amherst campus.
As they continued their search for the killer, police were tight-lipped about the stabbing, including details about where the attack took place, where the victim was stabbed and whether a weapon was recovered.
Detectives gave no hint that they believe Matteliano was the random victim of a break-in and assault.
"In my experience, these types of crimes usually involve somebody the victim knew," Green said, referring generally to such violent crimes.
Neighbors, most of whom have been up since early this morning, talked about Matteliano in glowing terms.
"We're very, very shocked," next-door neighbor Paul Vance said. "This was a nice guy, a wonderful guy. You couldn't ask for a better neighbor."
Matteliano, who reportedly lived alone, was described as an extremely friendly neighbor, who used to get his backyard pool ready and then insist that the neighborhood children use it.
Neighbors also said Matteliano was a talented musician. He played both the saxophone and piano in area bars and had his band frequently playing in a recording studio inside his home.
Today's killing was believed to be the first in Amherst since the strangling of a 66-year-old woman in her South Forest Road home last May 20. That killing was part of a poorly conceived plot by five or six people to collect the woman's $150,000 life-insurance policy.
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