This story was reported by Sarah Armaghan, Nicole Fuller, Chau Lam, Víctor Manuel Ramos, John Valenti and Ellen Yan. It was written by Armaghan.
Remains found Wednesday in a wooded area of Brentwood have been identified as those of a Brentwood teen last seen at a friend’s house before he went missing seven months ago, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Friday.
Miguel García Morán, 15, was reported missing Feb. 20, and his death is being investigated as a homicide, Sini said at a news conference outside the Third Precinct station house on Fifth Avenue in Bay Shore. His remains were found in a wooded area west of Emjay Boulevard, north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks.
“It appears that he was a victim of violence,” Sini said.
Sini said the cause of death was assault for both Morán and Oscar Acosta, 19, of Brentwood, whose remains were discovered in the same area last Friday.
Sini would not say when it is believed the two were killed or how long their remains had been at the wooded site where they were found. He also would not comment on whether police believe Acosta and Morán’s deaths are linked in any way.
Suffolk police sources said this week that Morán’s case was one of several transferred earlier this year from the Third Precinct to police headquarters and a multiagency gang task force when it appeared MS-13 may have had a role in the disappearances.
Sources have said FBI agents and federal prosecutors believe an extremely violent group of MS-13 gang members may be behind those killings as well as the beating deaths last week of two Brentwood girls, Nisa Mickens, 15, and her best friend, Kayla Cuevas, 16.
Sini wouldn’t comment if police believe the same gang is responsible for all four killings. He called those responsible for killing Mickens and Cuevas “savages.” The girls died from blunt force trauma and also suffered cuts on their bodies, Sini said.
An increased cash reward is being offered by Suffolk County Crime Stoppers — now at $15,000 — for information leading to the arrest of those responsible in last week’s killings. A member of MS-13, regarded as one of the most violent street gangs in America, is in custody on federal charges connected to an unrelated case of violence. Sources have said that person, who has not been publicly identified, may be involved in one or more of the killings.
The Brentwood community has been in mourning since Mickens’ body was found Sept. 13 by a passing motorist near Loretta Park Elementary School. The body of Cuevas, described by family members as Mickens’ best friend, was found in a wooded area behind a nearby home on Ray Court the following evening.
The killings of the high school juniors sparked a wide-reaching call — from residents to county and state officials — to eliminate gangs and violence in the area. A community forum was held Tuesday night at South Middle School, where Sini vowed to “decimate” gangs in Brentwood, and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced $500,000 would be earmarked in the county budget to bring a new gang prevention program to the school district to target at-risk youth as young as in the sixth grade.
At 1 p.m. Saturday, members of various community groups will join residents and meet at Brentwood High School’s Ross Center and march to Ross Memorial Park, where the participants will pray together, according to the Rev. Bryan Greaves, an associate pastor of the Holy Church of Christ in neighboring Central Islip, who organized the event.
Sini said he met with about 200 local and federal officials on Thursday from “every single criminal agency that operates on Long Island.”
He said he’s “very optimistic about the response we’ve been receiving from the community” when it comes to soliciting tips. He would not elaborate on how many or what types of tips police have received.
“Brentwood is a strong, resilient community and they’re not going to tolerate this type of activity in their backyard,” Sini said.
Morán’s mother was hospitalized Wednesday night after police told the family they’d found her son’s remains. Police on Thursday visited her in the hospital and told the family DNA test results confirmed the match, he said. Sini would not say how police were able to identify the two sets of remains as Morán and Acosta.
Abraham Chaparro, who lives with Morán’s mother and considered the teen to be his son, was at a funeral home on Friday, making arrangements for cremation.
Lady Morán, 19, the victim’s sister, said earlier this week that they both had been bothered by gangs in Brentwood schools before he went missing.