Police ID burned bodies found in Howard Beach
Police have released the identities of two men whose badly burned bodies were found during a parkland brushfire in Howard Beach early Wednesday, and have also released surveillance photos and video of three vehicles in the area at the time.
Police also released surveillance footage from nearby cameras taken between 4:11 a.m. and 4:12 a.m. Wednesday that show three vehicles moving along the street near the crime scene.
The first vehicle is a light-colored four-door sedan, followed almost immediately by a dark-colored four-door sedan. About 20 seconds after the first two vehicles move out of camera range a third vehicle, a dark-colored custom van or minivan, drives through the scene.
The images were all filmed in the vicinity of 157th Avenue and 83rd Street, police said.
The brushfire where the two men were burned was located at 159th Avenue and 78th.
On Wednesday, not long after the bodies were discovered, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters that the victims appeared to have had plastic trash bags over them that melted -- a situation that had given investigators that initial impression that the men may have been bound.
"I am not sure whether or not at this point they were bound," Kelly said. Police had not clarified that Thursday.
Police had said late Wednesday that investigators had identified through fingerprints one of the victims as a man with a criminal record but weren't releasing his name until his family was notified. It was not clear, though, which of the victims was matched to those prints. Police said the second victim had also been tentatively identified by late Wednesday, but, like the first victim, his name was withheld at that time.
"We are obviously looking for video cameras, something we always do at the scene of the crime," Kelly said Wednesday, adding that he couldn't say what the cause of death was. But he said it was "more than likely" that the men were killed at a different location.
The city medical examiner's office was scheduled to perform autopsies Thursday.
A police official late Wednesday said the killings may have stemmed from a personal dispute as opposed to gang violence or some other matter.
The bodies were discovered after firefighters responded to a 4:12 a.m. call about a brushfire near 159th Avenue and 78th Street, Queens, an intersection adjacent to Spring Creek Park, a wetland area on the western edge of Howard Beach, just south of the Belt Parkway.
The park area, about 2 miles west of Kennedy Airport, has earned a reputation over the years for being an occasional dumping ground for bodies. Kelly couldn't say exactly where the remains were found in the park.
With Kevin Deutsch and Joseph Mallia