As one of the Babylon body parts case defendants heads back to court on Monday, Newsday's Michael O'Keeffe reports on where we are with this case. Credit: Newsday

A group of high school students on their way to school in Babylon in February made a gruesome discovery: a man’s heavily tattooed forearm in a tangle of branches on the edge of a popular park.

One student called her father, who then called Suffolk County police, setting in motion a massive search, using police K-9 unit dogs, that culminated with police finding the body parts of two victims, a man and woman in their 50s, in three locations.

The reports that police had found human body parts, hacked with sharp objects and strewed about parks across Long Island, immediately raised speculation: Could it be MS-13, the notorious street gang authorities have said was responsible for a series of heinous hacking killings on Long Island? Was it an old-fashioned mob hit? A botched cover-up of a fatal drug overdose? Or something else altogether?

Less than a week later, police arrested four people without any alleged gang or nexus — two couples who lived together in a ramshackle house on Railroad Avenue in Amityville — and charged them with concealing a dead body and destroying evidence. Prosecutors haven’t publicly offered any motive, and no one is facing charges in connection with the deaths.


  • The discovery of human remains strewed across Long Island parks in February set in motion a massive search using police K-9 unit dogs that culminated with police finding the body parts of two victims in three locations.
  • Police identified the victims as 59-year-old Donna R. Conneely and Malcolm C. Brown, 53. They lived together in Yonkers.
  • Four defendants were charged in connection with the case. Steven Brown, 44, and his girlfriend, Amanda Wallace, 40, and Jeffrey Mackey, 38, and his girlfriend, Alexis Nieves, 33 — were each charged with felony counts of first-degree hindering prosecution, concealment of a human corpse, and tampering with physical evidence by concealing or destroying.
From left: Amanda Wallace, Steven Brown, Alexis Nieves and Jeffrey Mackey appear...

From left: Amanda Wallace, Steven Brown, Alexis Nieves and Jeffrey Mackey appear at First District Court in Central Islip on March 6 for their arraignment. Credit: Newsday

Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, when asked recently if his office was close to bringing any new charges in the case, would only say: “We’re still working through a lot of evidence and I’m thankful for the hard work of our prosecutors and the Suffolk County Homicide Bureau.”

'An isolated incident'

The Suffolk County Police Department has said the crimes were “an isolated incident” and there was no threat to the public.

The four defendants — Steven Brown, 44, and his girlfriend, Amanda Wallace, 40; and Jeffrey Mackey, 38, and his girlfriend, Alexis Nieves, 33 — were charged with felony counts of first-degree hindering prosecution, concealment of a human corpse and tampering with physical evidence by concealing or destroying.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges, and although a judge ordered them to wear electronic monitoring devices, they were released from police custody without bail. That set off a public outcry, and Tierney criticized the state’s 2019 bail reform law for preventing his prosecutors from seeking bail for the charged crimes. Gov. Kathy Hochul responded to Tierney’s comments by questioning why the defendants hadn’t been charged with any higher-level felony offenses that would have mandated bail, which experts said almost always occurs in similarly charged cases.

Tierney scoffed at Hochul's attempt to question his prosecutorial acumen and said ethically he can only charge the crimes for which he has sufficient evidence.

The case is complicated by the fact that there are four defendants, so investigators have to try to figure out if one or more — or any — of them are responsible for the deaths. Parsing through phone records, which requires investigators to get a court-ordered warrant, and other potential records takes time.

Police search for evidence at a home on Railroad Avenue in...

Police search for evidence at a home on Railroad Avenue in Amityville on March 5. Credit: James Carbone

The defendants were ordered to wear GPS monitoring devices, report to probation weekly, surrender their passports and refrain from leaving Suffolk County. But their Railroad Avenue home has been deemed uninhabitable due to damage to the plumbing, toilet and sinks during the execution of a search warrant, prosecutors have said.

Questions about defendants

It’s unclear where the defendants are staying. While their defense attorneys have said they maintain their innocence, they’ve hesitated to answer Newsday’s questions, saying they haven’t received any discovery from the prosecution and therefore cannot speak to the facts of the case. The lawyers have either declined to detail their clients’ work life or said they didn’t know, but have confirmed that Wallace and Steven Brown and Nieves and Mackey are in relationships.

The court-ordered ankle monitoring bracelet didn’t stop Wallace from getting into more legal trouble. She’s now being held without bail after she was arrested March 15, while wearing her electronic monitoring device, for allegedly stealing nail polish and fake eyelashes from a CVS in Lindenhurst.

Police have identified the victims as 59-year-old Donna R. Conneely and Malcolm C. Brown, 53. They lived together in Yonkers.

And in a twist that a law enforcement official confirmed to Newsday, the victim Malcolm Brown is a cousin of defendant Steven Brown.

Suffolk Police investigators search Southards Pond Park in Babylon on Mar....

Suffolk Police investigators search Southards Pond Park in Babylon on Mar. 1. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD sergeant and adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, noted that dismembering bodies is not an easy task. He said whoever chopped up the bodies and dropped pieces off in various locations may have been trying to lead authorities to conclude it was an entity like MS-13 that was responsible. Or they might have just panicked, he said.

“You spent all this time to chop up the bodies and to leave it out in plain view is definitely kind of amateurish,” Giacalone said. “I look at it as a staged event.”

Family connections

Malcolm Brown’s sister, Coreen Bullock, had shown up in court earlier this month as her cousin Steven Brown appeared before a judge, calling out, “Why did you do this?”

She got no answer, she said, and in a recent interview said that she knows of no motive for her cousin to have harmed her brother.

“No, absolutely not,” she said. “That’s why this is such a shock to my family. We were a close-knit family.”

They had all grown up together, she said, and her brother and cousin were “running buddies,” though she lives out of state and had not seen her brother recently.

Bullock, who lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said her brother worked in a laundromat. She declined to say whether he has any children. Malcolm Brown and Conneely had been “together for a while,” she said.

Bullock said her family hasn’t gotten any additional information from authorities.

“They just told me everything is still under investigation,” she said. “I’m waiting patiently.”

Both Browns, the victim and the defendant, have criminal records, according to New York State prison records.

Steven Brown, then living on Rita Drive in Mount Sinai, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and was sentenced to 560 hours of community service in connection with a 2001 incident. He then got 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to petty larceny in 2003. That same year, he was arrested by the NYPD and charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to 21 hours of community service and a $500 fine.

In 2007, while living in the Bronx, he was arrested by Suffolk police and charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four months in jail and a $500 fine.

Victim Malcolm Brown was sentenced to 9 years in prison after his 1989 arrest on robbery charges in Westchester County. He pleaded guilty to attempted robbery in that case. More than a decade later, when he had a Pittsburgh address, he pleaded guilty to attempted murder in Westchester in connection with an incident in 2000. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

A severed left arm

Malcolm Brown’s arm was found first, on Feb. 29, at about 8:40 a.m., when a student who was walking to school discovered his severed left arm on the west side of Siegel Boulevard at the eastern end of Southards Pond Park, between Park Avenue and Mason Avenue, police said. She called her father, who came to the park and called 911, police said.

A massive dayslong search, including of a nearby cemetery, ensued. A cadaver dog from the police department’s canine unit discovered a leg in a mound of leaves on the western side of the park near Graham Place, police said. The same dog continued searching the east side of the park and found a right arm about 20 feet away from where the left arm had been discovered.

Suffolk Police K-9 units search Southards Pond Park in Babylon on...

Suffolk Police K-9 units search Southards Pond Park in Babylon on March 1. Credit: Howard Schnapp

More human remains were discovered March 5 in the woods across from a home on Lakeway Drive in West Babylon, about three miles from where the woman’s remains were found in Southards Pond Park. Some eight miles away, additional remains were found in Bethpage State Park and a wooded area in West Babylon, police said.

Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, the commander of the homicide squad, said the remains of both victims did not appear to have been outside very long, perhaps just days or even hours, before they were discovered.

Days later, neighbors saw police in heavy tactical gear enter an Amityville home with K-9 unit dogs. The four defendants were arrested.

In charging documents filed in Suffolk County District Court earlier this month, prosecutors alleged that the defendants removed “sharp instruments, multiple body parts and other related items and dispose[d] of them to conceal the crime of murder in the second degree” between Feb. 27 at 10:53 a.m. and March 4 at 4:08 a.m. — the precise times indicating that authorities have surveillance video appearing to show the body parts being removed from their home.

A law enforcement source told Newsday that authorities believe the victims' bodies were dismembered inside the home.

An investigation nearing its end

At their arraignments in a Central Islip courtroom, Assistant District Attorney Frank Schroeder of the Homicide Bureau detailed what he called the “significant evidence” that investigators have against the four defendants. In addition to the victims' body parts, Schroeder said authorities have video surveillance and weapons, including meat cleavers and butcher knives. Schroeder also said investigators found large amounts of blood.

Nieves, who had been homeless but was staying with the other defendants at the Railroad Avenue home, went to “barbaric lengths” to cover up the crime, Schroeder said. Nieves, according to the prosecutors, has a pending criminal possession of controlled substance charge.

But none of the four defendants currently charged in connection with the case is facing murder charges. One official said the conclusion of the investigation is in sight.

“We're getting closer to the end,” the official said.

With Michael O'Keeffe

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