John Laubach, 57, who was well known by locals for carrying a parrot on his shoulder, was found bound and gagged in his New York apartment on Friday
A churchgoing, bird-owning businessman was found murdered in his Chelsea bedroom -- duct tape across his mouth, his hands bound and a towel draped over his head, sources said.
Neighbors and friends of John Laubach, 57, were stunned to learn of the quiet man’s violent death, and police were still hunting for suspects in the killing.
Laubach was wearing only a white T-shirt, with an electrical cord lashed around his wrists, when his body was discovered Friday night by his best friend inside his fourth-floor apartment on W. 22nd St.
Neighbor Georgie Lopez said Laubach, who limped after suffering a stroke and was often seen with his pet cockatoo perched on his shoulder, sometimes brought men home after moving in about two years ago — but never bothered anybody.
“He was a nice guy,” said Lopez, 72, who lived one floor above the victim in the six-story brick building. “He was a friendly guy.”
Laubach’s death stood in stark contrast with his volunteer work at Church of the Ascension on Fifth Ave., where he routinely helped with preparations for the 9 a.m. Sunday service.
“He’s a very, very dedicated person,” said church sexton Len Bowman, 59, who first met Laubach six years ago. “You could tell the church was his family.”
The insurance business executive would handle everything from floral arrangements to setting up the chalice, wine and water for the celebrant.
“He had improved a lot (after the stroke), but not to the extent where he could fight off anyone,” said Bowman.
Laubach’s ties to the church dated to his days living on Fifth Ave. before selling his old place and moving to the Chelsea studio apartment. He always came to the church unaccompanied.
“He had a lot of class,” Bowman said. “He was really profound. He was a very lovable guy around here.”
There was no sign of forced entry at the victim’s apartment, indicating Laubach perhaps knew his killer, police sources said.
Laubach’s home was ransacked, and police were checking to see if anything of value was looted from the dead man’s apartment.
Neighbors said Laubach, a former Baltimore resident, lived alone with his pet cockatoo, Bolo.
The white bird, known for sitting on its owner’s shoulder as he walked around the building, was heard squawking in the apartment hours after the killing.
Laubach “looked like a cross between Mel Brooks and James Caan,” said one neighbor. “He seemed like an average person ... He was really nice, he always said hi.”
The body was taken to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Neighbors on the quaint tree-lined block, where studio apartments rent for $2,000-a-month and up, were aghast as word of the killing spread.
“This is supposed to be a good neighborhood, but I don’t know, you can never trust anybody,” said Juan Carlos Andaluz, 24, standing outside the building. “It’s so sad. Why would anyone hurt an older person?”