A Suffolk County police officer with K-9 conducts a search...

A Suffolk County police officer with K-9 conducts a search Saturday a few blocks from the place where the body was found. Credit: Howard Simmons

Suffolk County detectives are investigating the strangulation of a man found dead on the roadside early Saturday morning in East Farmingdale only feet from the Nassau County border.

A passerby found Juan Carlos Diaz Geronimo, 48, on the side of Garity Place around 1:35 a.m., Suffolk police said in a statement.

East Farmingdale Fire Department first responders pronounced Diaz Geronimo, of North Amityville, dead at the scene. Police said he had been strangled and homicide squad detectives are investigating. 

The grassy patch where Diaz Geronimo was found, between a New York State sump lot and a car wash, showed no divots in the grass or other signs of a struggle.

Photos of the crime scene shared with Newsday by a local business showed the victim face up with his shirt open and his feet facing the street. Yellow evidence markers dotted the roadway and police investigators congregated nearby.

Neighbors said the street, which runs about 200 yards between East Carmans Road and Morton Street, has been a magnet for late-night activity, especially on weekends.

Rich Farina, 65, whose bedroom window faces Garity Place, said he can barely sleep on weekend nights because of the heavy traffic and loud music coming from cars that park on the strip.

"It's the last block in Suffolk County [before Nassau County] and it's neglected," he said. "I've been here for seven years and it's getting progressively worse."

Garity Place sits parallel to Route 109 behind a Knights of Columbus hall, a nightclub, a car wash and a 7-Eleven.

News of the apparent homicide set neighbors on edge.

"I'm shocked," Patrick Burns, 57, the president of the Knights of Columbus hall, said. "It's very sad, very sad."

He said detectives came by in the morning to collect security footage from his building, but he said that it was dark and that the video was grainy and didn't show the area where the body was found.

He said patrons from a nightclub around the corner often park in his lot.

"I turn a blind eye because I don't want any trouble," he said.  

Neighbor Luanne Schultheis, 58, said her daughter reminded her to be careful.

"It isn't safe over here," she said. "My daughter says to me to remember to lock the doors. You never know these days."

She said she would avoid the area from now on for her daily walks and she doesn't go out at night.

"Nothing good happens after 12 o'clock," she said. 

Police did not release information on a suspect, citing an ongoing investigation. 

Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392.

With Joseph Ostapiuk

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