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S. Buffalo man, 84, is found stabbed, beaten to death

The body of an 84-year-old man -- stabbed and beaten -- was found Tuesday in the kitchen of the split-level home in South Buffalo that he built for his family and lived in for about 50 years.

Donald J. Rossel's body was discovered at about 4 p.m. Tuesday by his youngest son, Paul, police said.

Rossel had been stabbed near the navel and was severely beaten on the head, police sources told The Buffalo News.

South District police said Rossel lived alone in the home on Susan Lane.

Buffalo police would only say that Rossel died under "suspicious" circumstances. An autopsy is scheduled today.

"Officers made a grim discovery of a male occupant deceased," said Dennis J. Richards, chief of detectives.

Detectives were going door-to-door, talking with residents of the street, which is not known for criminal activity and is home to several current and retired police officers.

Neighbors portrayed Rossel as a "social and active man" who worked out daily in a gym, was fond of dancing, had "a way with the ladies" and was frequently seen during summer months donning a racing cap and cruising Susan Lane in his Jaguar convertible.

That sports car was parked in the garage of the home, surrounded by yellow crime tape. In the driveway were Rossel's two other vehicles -- a newer-model tan Lincoln and an older red conversion van.

"I just can't believe this," said one neighbor, who did not want to be identified but said he grew up near the Rossel family and knew Rossel, his former wife, Elaine, and the couple's five children well. "Everybody knew everybody in this neighborhood."

Neighbors noted that Rossel and his wife divorced after more than 50 years of marriage, during which they celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with a trip to China.

Police had responded to the home a few times in recent years, including in January 2009, when Rossel's son Gary, 54, was in the basement, the victim of a suicide. Rossel, according to neighbors, found his son's body.

Another son, Brian, 49, was severely injured during a bicycling accident that left him with mental illness and saw him admitted as a resident at Buffalo Psychiatric Center. Neighbors told police they saw Brian Rossel at the Susan Lane address Monday. He was being questioned late Tuesday at Police Headquarters.

Last December, police investigated a burglary at Rossel's home and subsequently arrested two people. A female suspect was a tenant of one of several properties managed by Rossel and allegedly broke in and stole change and jewelry, according to police reports.

Rossel was the retired owner and president of Don's South Side Apartments in Buffalo and, according to neighbors, maintained several rental properties in Lackawanna.

One neighbor, who said he saw Rossel on Sunday in his yard, described frequently hearing arguments between Rossel and tenants who, in recent years, often arrived at his house to make payments or to perform yardwork for him.

Police sources said the killing was not believed to be a random act of violence.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Buffalo police confidential Tip Call or Text-A-Tip lines at 847-2255, e-mail the information to tips@bpdny.org or click on "Report a Tip" at www.bpdny.org.

e-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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