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 said one set of remains belonging to a 16-year-old boy who has been missing since July were discovered
- 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 that were found in a 27-acre Long Island preserve last week are that of a boy who had been missing for three months, authorities said Sunday.
The remains of 16-year-old Angel Soler were identified after local and federal authorities scoured a forested area in Roosevelt for days.
Soler was last seen leaving his Roosevelt home on his green bicycle on the evening of July 21, police said. His remains were discovered Friday five minutes from his home.
Police said Soler was last seen alive when he was 15 years old, but was found dead after his 16th birthday had past. Officials say they can't be sure whether he died before or after his 16th birthday.
"It could happen to any of us," Amari Ward, Angel's neighbor, said. "We could be walking home and get jumped and they could find our bodies in the woods five minutes from here. It’s crazy."
As authorities continue their investigation, dogs with the New York State Police have pointed to other possible locations of interest in addition to the preserve in Roosevelt.
Part of that is because of the terrain. The expansive wooded area and lake that comprise the reserve are 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.
"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 -- 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, and with a rash of recent MS-13 killings in the area, some residents believe the gang has something to do with it.
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.