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Nassau police say no remains found at Massapequa Preserve

State Police assist at the Massapequa Preserve in

State Police assist at the Massapequa Preserve in the search for human remains on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A morning search failed to turn up human remains in a heavily wooded Massapequa park where the body of a teenager — stabbed and shot by two MS-13 gang members, according to cops — was discovered earlier this year, authorities said Thursday.

Day two of the search of the 432-acre Massapequa Preserve by Nassau police officers and homicide detectives stemmed from a gang-related tip reporting a body about 50 feet from where Julio Cesar Gonzales-Espantzay was found dead in March.

“We excavated that area over the past two days and at this point it is negative,” said acting police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. “We dug down as far as the water levels and nothing came up. There are no remains in that area at this time.”

State police arrived shortly before noon with dogs, as a helicopter flew overhead.

Police said Gonzales-Espantzay had been stabbed and shot in January and authorities have blamed his death on two men whom they described as MS-13 members.

Detectives had begun searching the Massapequa site Wednesday — the same day sources said the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, acting on a tip related to MS-13, found human remains several miles west in a Freeport park.

The two investigations come nearly a week after the remains of a missing teenager were found in the woods on the Baldwin-Roosevelt border. That case and the Freeport case are not related other than they may all involve the notorious street gang, sources have told Newsday.

FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson confirmed Wednesday that the task force, along with Nassau police, conducted the search at Cow Meadow Park & Preserve in Freeport.

She 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.

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

On Sunday, Nassau police identified human remains found last week on the Roosevelt-Baldwin border — several miles north of Cow Meadow Park — as Angel Soler, 16, of Roosevelt.

The discovery of Soler, who had not been seen for three months, has drawn attention to other cases of missings person on Long Island who fit the description of the teenager and Gonzales-Espantzay.

As of Monday night, there were 30 active Suffolk County missing persons cases of Hispanic males and females between the ages of 13 and 23.

Nassau police have received reports of 59 missing persons since 2015, officials said. Of those, 17 are described as Hispanic males and females between the ages of 13 and 23. And of those 17, six were associated with gang members or were last known to be with gang members, Ryder said.

Police in Nassau will continue with a heightened presence in the park as they continue to search for more evidence and warn residents to stay in well lit areas and walkways until sunset.

“At nighttime you are not supposed to be in the park anyhow, so please stay out at night,” Ryder said.

With William Murphy

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