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Update: Body of U.S. Marine recruit found; former recruiter being held as person of interest


Update: The remains of Joseph Brancato, a 21-year-old U.S. missing USMC recruit has been found off of i95 near Boston by a motorist who had pulled off of the highway to aid another driver.

Brancato was identified through dental records, according to reports. His former roommate and recruiter, 39-year-old Frank Walter Lipka is being held on unrelated gun charges, but is a person of interest in the case.

Antonio Planas

Boston Herald – A former U.S. Marine recruiter identified by authorities as a person of interest in the disappearance of a 21-year-old Winthrop man was held on unrelated gun charges yesterday in court, where relatives of the missing man voiced their anger.

Frank Walter Lipka, 39, is being investigated by Boston police for the disappearance of his former roommate and Marine recruit, Joseph Brancato, 21, prosecutor Michael Lefleur said. Brancato’s family members said yesterday they have not heard from Brancato since Nov. 18.

Brancato’s relatives lashed out after Lipka’s arraignment at West Roxbury District Court where Lipka hid behind a doorway, angry that his lawyer, Timothy Bransfield, had called him a “patriot.”

“If he was an honorable patriot, he would have come forward and he would have told our family the circumstances leading up to Joey’s disappearance,” said Nicole DaSilva, Brancato’s cousin.

Lipka is charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, accused of pointing a gun at a food delivery worker at his Roslindale home Sept. 3. He is also charged with possession of ammunition without a firearms ID card, said Lefleur.

Lipka pleaded not guilty yesterday and was held on $10,000 cash bail. He was ordered to surrender his passport and will be placed on GPS monitoring if he posts bail.

Police learned of the alleged gun incident during the “ongoing investigation into the disappearance of Mr. Brancato,” Lefleur said in court. “The defendant is aware of the ongoing investigation. He is a person of interest in that case.”

Boston cops arrested Lipka Friday at Logan International Airport, a police spokeswoman said.

Capt. Gerard R. Farao, a Marine Corps spokesman, said yesterday Lipka began working as a Marine recruiter in Boston in 2015. He had been in custody with the military prior to his arrest at Logan last week, Farao said.

“Frank Lipka was taken into military custody for drunk driving, absence without authorization from work, and an altercation with two Marines in his unit,” Farao said in an email. Lipka was released from custody March 21, and “separated” from the Marines last week. He had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Farao said.

Lipka’s lawyer, Bransfield, said during the arraignment, “He is someone who was deployed to fight our wars, our battles for us — for his country.”

Lafleur described Lipka as a flight risk, saying he is fluent in Russian, Serbian, Croatian and Mandarin and is also an expert in computer forensics.

Mildred LeBaron of Winthrop, Brancato’s grandmother, said her grandson lived with her before he moved in with Lipka last August.

“I’m praying to God every day,” she said. “That’s all I got left. Dear God, I pray that some miracle happens. That my Joey comes walking through that door because I don’t think I could deal with anything happening to that boy. I love that boy.”


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