United States

Human Remains Found in Long Island Preserve After Tip; Search for More Bodies Ongoing

What to Know

  • Investigators have been scouring a huge preserve in Roosevelt after getting a tip from a persons of interest human remains were buried there
  • Authorities confirmed that one set of remains belonging to a male had been found; police dogs have flagged other locations of interest
  • People who live nearby speculate the MS-13 gang, associated with recent slayings in the area, was involved; cops haven't confirmed that

Human remains have been found in a 27-acre Long Island preserve investigators have been scouring for the last two days, and police dogs have flagged other possible areas of interest, Nassau County officials said at a joint news briefing with state and federal authorities Friday.

The remains recovered belong to a male, though DNA and other evidence is needed from the medical examiner's office to make a conclusive identification, officials said. Dogs with the New York State Police have pointed to other possible locations of interest, though investigators stress the probe will take time.

Part of that is because of the terrain. The expansive wooded area and lake that comprise the reserve in Roosevelt is overgrown and rugged. Detective Lieutenant Stephen Fitzpatrick of the Nassau PD's Homicide Squad described it as "treacherous," and said one of the department's detectives broke his ankle conducting a search there on Thursday.

"We're taking a slow, methodical process," Fitzpatrick said. "At this time we only have one set of human remains. I know other people have said there are others but that's not true. We're still looking in there."

A tip to Homeland Security from a person of interest prompted the initial search, authorities said. Several locations in the area have been scoured over the last 36 hours -- and more searches are planned. 

In the meantime, crime scene tape blocks off the area near the dead-end street.

And with little confirmed information, people who live in the area are speculating.

The Long Island Gang Task Force was at the scene Thursday, and with a rash of recent MS-13 killings in the area, some residents believe the gang has something to do with it. 

A year ago, Lilian Oliva's son went missing in the exact area. She told NBC 4 she believes MS-13 was behind his disappearance. And she thinks the body police were looking for is that of her son. 

Authorities declined to give any specifics Friday about the body other than that it was that of a male. They said it wasn't clear how long the remains had been there, and declined to answer a question about the state of decomposition.

The deaths of more than 20 people, mostly teenagers, in Nassau and Suffolk counties by alleged MS-13 gang members have drawn the attention of federal authorities, and even President Trump. 

Last month, Gov. Cuomo unveiled an initiative to combat gang violence at 10 high-risk schools on Long Island. 

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