As cops search Pilgrim, family says victim is their son
This story was reported by Nicole Fuller, Víctor Manuel Ramos, Chau Lam and Ellen Yan. It was written by Fuller.
Suffolk police on Thursday scoured the grounds of a Brentwood psychiatric center after finding two sets of skeletal remains nearby that could be connected to the gang-related murders of two teenage girls.
Abraham Chaparro, who lives with the mother of a missing Brentwood teen, was also at the search site Thursday morning. He said later that the remains found nearby the day before were those of Miguel Garcia Morán, 15, who went missing about seven months ago.
Chaparro, who said he considered the teen to be his son, said police came to their Brentwood home Tuesday evening and took a DNA swab from Morán’s mother. They returned Wednesday evening, he said, with what police called “bad news.”
“The police said it was him,” Chaparro, 57, said in an interview Thursday.
Police found the same clothes — a red shirt and black pants — that Morán was wearing the day he went missing, Chaparro said.
“I think this is gang-related. The police, the government - they have to do something here,” said Chaparro.
Upon hearing the news, Morán’s mother was having trouble breathing and collapsed and was taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore where she was still recovering Thursday evening.
“She started crying and crying,” said Chaparro. “So sad.”
From her hospital bed Thursday, the grieving mother said in Spanish, “It’s painful.”
Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Thursday afternoon that the medical examiner’s office had not yet identified the last remains found Wednesday in a wooded area off of Emjay Boulevard about 2 miles from the site on the ground of the old Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center, where Thursday’s search was centered. Another set of remains found last Friday was identified as Oscar Acosta, 19, of Brentwood, who police said was a homicide victim.
“We want to search that area thoroughly to make sure we get all the evidence that may be there,” Sini said.
Justin Meyers, the police department’s top spokesman, said police “anticipate having an identification in the next few days.” Identification of remains is typically made through dental records or DNA from family members.
Morán’s sister, Lady Morán, 19, said she and her brother were both targeted by gangs inside the Brentwood schools, where she is a senior. She said gang members are known to repeatedly ask students to join them.
“He had told me they were bothering him but I told him not to pay any mind to them,” she said.
Morán’s case was one of several transferred earlier this year from the precinct to police headquarters and a multiagency gang task force when it appeared MS-13 may have had a role in the disappearances, Suffolk police sources said.
The teenager was last seen heading north on Bishop Road, not far from his home, one of the sources said, and officers, along with a police dog, found nothing when they searched the area.
The discovery of the remains of Acosta and the second youth came as police were investigating what they believe are the gang-related killings of Brentwood High School students Nisa Mickens, 15 and Kayla Cuevas, 15, whose badly beaten bodies were found last week.
Sources have said FBI agents and federal prosecutors believe an extremely violent group of MS-13 gang members may be behind those deaths as well as those of the teenage girls.
Asked about that, Sini would only say: “We will stop at nothing to ensure the safety of the residents of Brentwood, and all communities in Suffolk County.”
He has said a violent gang member was in federal custody but he would not give any further details. But a source said a gang member being held on unrelated charges may be involved in one or more of the killings.
For Lady Morán, the pain of losing her brother — a kid she described as being a fast learner who came from Ecuador two years ago — was “just too strong” to put into words, she said.
She said the last time they went out together was seven months ago with their mother when they had gone out shopping to the mall, “because he liked to dress well.”
They had stopped by a Chinese food buffet restaurant to eat and then their mother dropped him off at a friend’s house near their home. His friend later said that he had left to go home, but Morán was never seen or heard from again.
“They are just taking lives… It’s not fair for them to keep killing innocent people,” Morán said.
Her brother, she said, was in the 9th grade but could help her with subjects she was taking in the 11th grade. He liked Nintendo videogames, swimming and soccer. He wanted to join the Army after high school.
“All that we want is not to be bothered in school and I hope they understand the pain I’m going through,” she said. “It wasn’t fair for them to do this to my brother, who was a good person.”