BRENTWOOD, N.Y. — A body found in the woods at the site of an abandoned psychiatric hospital, where multiple other remains have been found in recent months, has been identified as a teenage gang member, authorities on Long Island said Thursday.
Jose Pena-Hernandez, 18, of Brentwood, was discovered Oct. 17 on the grounds of Pilgrim Psychiatric Center on Crooked Hill Road, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.
"We didn't find him by accident. We didn't find those remains by accidents. We are putting an enormous amount of pressure on the criminal element in the Brentwood area, and as a result, our investigations and our gang crackdown is progressing," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Dini.
Pena-Hernandez had been reported missing June 13 and was a known member of the MS-13 gang, police said. An autopsy will determine the teen's cause of death.
The gruesome discovery comes as police continue to probe the gang-related deaths of at least five others in the same neighborhood, shaken by the slayings.
A passerby found the body of 15-year-old Nisa Mickens on a Brentwood street on Sept. 13, one day before her 16th birthday. The next day, the body of her friend, 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas, was found in the backyard of a nearby home.
The pair had gone for a walk the night before and never returned.
Nine days after the girls' bodies were found, teams of investigators scouring the long-abandoned grounds of Pilgrim State found two human skeletons, police said in late September.
The remains were identified as Oscar Acosta, 19, who had been missing since May, and Miguel Garcia-Mora, 15.
All of the teens had attended the same high school in Brentwood.
Earlier this month, the body of Dewann Stacks was found lying lifeless on the road in front of 231 American Blvd., about a mile from where Mickens' body was found.
Police said Stacks, 34, most likely was killed by gang members.
Commissioner Sini says in the past month authorities have arrested 25 gang members, the result of intensified enforcement on the ground as well as in the air.
"We are utilizing aviation and a word to the residents of Brentwood, you are going to hear helicopters more often. It does not mean we are actively searching for anyone. We are engaging in proactive patrols and that includes by our schools, in certain hotspots and in the air," Sini said.