Marty Tankleff visits graves of parents


Wednesday, January 2nd 2008, 4:00 AM
Martin Tankleff and an aunt visit the Melville, L.I., graves of his slain parents. Barcelo/News

Martin Tankleff and an aunt visit the Melville, L.I., graves of his slain parents.

Seventeen years after he was convicted of killing his parents, Martin Tankleff wiped tears from his eyes Tuesday as he made a painful pilgrimage to their graves.

Tankleff, who was released from prison last week after his conviction was overturned, hugged his aunts and then made a promise to his slain parents, Arlene and Seymour Tankleff.

"We'll get to the bottom of this," Tankleff said, according to his cousin Ronald Falbee.

They were the only words Tankleff could muster as he stood in the fading winter sunlight on New Year's Day beside his mother's sisters, Marcella Falbee and Marianne McClure, at Pine lawn Cemetery in Melville, L.I.

"He was very quiet," Ronald Falbee said. "Everybody was quiet."

Arlene Tankleff's sisters and Seymour Tankleff's brothers have never doubted Martin's innocence, he added.

"The strange thing is that the real victims in this case have supported Marty," Falbee said.

"The only one who thinks he did it was the DA."

Tankleff, 36, was sprung after an appeals court tossed a 1990 conviction for the murder of his wealthy parents.

His legal team is trying to prove that his father's business partner ordered the killings.

He has not been charged.

Falbee said Tankleff is "dedicating his life to his indictment and trial and seeing that we can get some justice for Arlene and Seymour."

Tankleff emerged from prison last Thursday with only the clothes on his back. So his aunts and cousin took him shopping for new duds and then skiing in Pennsylvania over the weekend.

"What we really wanted to do was go shopping, get him some clothes and get away from things for a bit and get a breath of fresh air,"Ronald Falbee said. "Hedidn't come out with very much, so he needed a lot."

Tankleff was wearing a new University of Michigan shirt and blue knit pants when he visited his parents' graves Tuesday.

He stayed for about 20 minutes before he turned and followed his aunts across the cemetery lawn to a waiting car for the drive back to Falbee's house in Westbury, L.I.

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