ROOSEVELT, Long Island – Human remains have been found on Long Island during a search prompted by a tip to Homeland Security that a body may have been dumped in the woods, officials said Friday.
The remains are that of a male, but no further identification has been established, according to Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick, with the Homicide Squad at Nassau County Police Department.
The remains were found in an area that looked like it might have been a gravesite, Fitzpatrick said.
"Right now it's the spot where we found the human remains," Fitzpatrick said at the edge of the 27-acre search area, on West Greenwich Avenue, near Wilburn Lane here. "We're looking for other sites, slowly but surely," he added.
The area in which the search is underway has a pond in it. Next to it, crime scene technicians in white Tyvek coveralls could be seen on Friday, unearthing rocks and soil.
Fitzpatrick could not say how long the body had been in the woods, but PIX11 police sources said that the remains were discovered under slabs of concrete.
What set the search in motion was a comment from a man in custody with the Department of Homeland Security that a body may be in the woods.
The federal agency has been working closely with the Nassau County Police Department to crack down on gangs. A law enforcement source told PIX11 News it appears the tip is gang-related.
But this discovery does not end the search, Fitzpatrick said. Investigators will continue to comb through the area, focusing on the spot where the remains were found and also exploring "interest in several other locations," he said.
Five cadaver dogs were brought onto the scene Friday morning. "The dogs did have positive responses to areas we are interested in," Fitzpatrick said. The search will not be fast or easy.
"There's a lot of hills, trees, concrete slabs" in the area in which they're searching, the detective lieutenant said. He called the terrain "treacherous," and pointed out that a detective broke an ankle during the search.
Acting commissioner of Nassau County Police Department Patrick Ryder said on Thursday that "this is going to be a long process." Ryder predicted the search could continue for days.
"Quite unhappy about it, really," said local resident Cleveland Cummings about the situation. Cummings has lived next to the wooded wetland for more than four decades. "This is something new," he told PIX11 News. "Got to get adjusted to it."
Nassau County Police, along with Homeland Security Investigations agents and state police investigators are keeping a round-the-clock presence at the site. Exactly how long they'll be in place, they can't be certain.
"As long as it takes," said Detective Lieutenant Fitzpatrick.