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Long IslandCrime

Sources: FBI finds human remains in Freeport park

The FBI's Long Island Gang Task Force, acting on a tip related to MS-13, found human remains while searching Cow Meadow Park & Preserve in Freeport on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, sources said. The discovery comes nearly a week after the remains of a missing teenager were found in the woods on the Baldwin-Roosevelt border. The cases are not related other than they may both involve the gang, the sources said. (Credit: News 12 Long Island)

This story was reported by John Asbury, Nicole Fuller, Robert E. Kessler, Mark Morales and John Valenti. It was written by Zachary R. Dowdy.

The FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, acting on a tip related to MS-13, found human remains in a Freeport park Wednesday, sources said — the same day that authorities combed a patch of woods in Massapequa where the body of a slain teenager was discovered earlier this year.

The two investigations come nearly a week after the remains of a missing teenager were found in woods on the Baldwin-Roosevelt border. Those cases are not related other than they may both involve the gang, the sources said.

FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson confirmed that the task force, along with Nassau police, conducted the search at Cow Meadow Park and Preserve and said investigators “have found what they believe to be human remains and are currently processing the scene.” Part of the 150-acre park and preserve is in Freeport, but most of it is in Merrick.

“The FBI will not have further comment on the investigation at this time,” Thoreson said.

Nassau police Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun said, “We are assisting the FBI with an investigation into possible human remains at Cow Meadow Park.”

Meanwhile, Nassau police on Wednesday also searched Massapequa Preserve, where LeBrun said police were continuing to investigate the location where human remains had been found earlier this year.

In March, the body of Julio Cesar Gonzales-Espantzay, 19, was found in the 432-acre preserve. Police said he had been stabbed and shot in January and authorities have blamed his death on two men whom they described as MS-13 members.

On Wednesday, state troopers and a Nassau police patrol car were stationed on Ocean and Lakeview avenues in Massapequa, and officials could be seen towing an ATV and carrying a tent into the preserve. Authorities also were using dogs to search the area.

In the Freeport park case, the federal Long Island Gang Task Force, which has collared several MS-13 gang members in recent months, received the tip about the remains there, sources said.

On Wednesday, navy blue state police vehicles mixed with black SUVs were at the site of that investigation — a grim novelty for area residents, who said crime rarely occurs there.

“We’ve been going to this park our whole life,” said Adam LaMonica, 50, who drove by the scene after he heard about the discovery. “There’s never any violence down here or anything. It’s very unusual for this part of Freeport.”

Brendan Ward, 45, who has lived in the neighborhood for the last several years, said he was disturbed by the finding.

“It’s very quiet, but I know a lot of people do go back and hang out there” in the park, Ward said. “I figured maybe kids drinking, stuff like that, was probably the worst thing going on back there.”

Last week, the body of Angel Soler, 16, of Roosevelt was discovered on the Baldwin-Roosevelt border. Federal investigators and Nassau police believe he was killed by members of MS-13, according to sources familiar with that investigation.

Police and federal authorities have declined to publicly say who they believe is responsible for his death, and Nassau acting Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder had said earlier this week it was “too early” to comment on whether there was “any nexus to any gang affiliation.”

Nassau police, acting on a tip from federal Homeland Security Investigations, had discovered Soler’s body last Thursday in a wooded area. The teenager had been missing for three months.

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