BRENTWOOD, N.Y. -- For at least the third time in a week, police on Thursday searched wooded and abandoned areas of Brentwood, Long Island for human remains.
On two of those occasions, searchers found human skeletons.
They were found in addition to the badly beaten bodies of Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, two best friends, whose remains were found last week.
On Thursday, the search was on the long abandoned grounds of the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital. It covers dozens of acres, a few of which were surveyed on foot by search crews of detectives, uniformed officers and a canine.
Thursday's search did not appear to yield human remains, but last Friday, investigators found the skeleton remains of Oscar Acosta, 19, who'd been missing since May. Then, on Wednesday, they found the remains of a 17 year-old who has yet to be identified.
Some of the same technicians searching at the Pilgrim State Psychiatric site on Thursday had also worked the scenes two miles away last week, where Mickens and Cuevas had been found, beaten to death.
Mickens's funeral was on Wednesday. Cuevas's wake was on Thursday.
Two police cruisers were stationed outside of the funeral home. Similarly, school safety and police patrols were stepped up at Brentwood High School, where all of the identified victims had been students.
"We've discussed in class" the situation, a senior girl at the school told PIX11 News. "I've seen girls crying in class," she said, adding, "they're trying to not let it get to them."
PIX11 chose not to identify the student who spoke, out of concern that she could become a target of gang activity. The MS13 gang is suspected of involvement with all of the recent deaths currently under investigation.
One prominent member of the group is confirmed to be under federal arrest in an unrelated case. His connection to these latest cases, however, is being withheld by police. They have indicated that they're interviewing him extensively.
There is one thing, though, that law enforcement is being very forthcoming about.
"I want to be very clear about this," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini, at a news conference on Thursday. "The only people that should be fearful right now in Brentwood are those gang members."
"We are putting a tremendous amount of pressure on these known gang members and we are going to be taking them out very strategically, in collaboration with our local and federal law enforcement partners.”