A family whose patriarch disappeared almost six decades ago discovered human bones in the basement of their Lake Grove home, as they dug under concrete in search of the missing relative, Suffolk police said Wednesday.
DNA tests will tell if the remains are those of George Carroll, who disappeared around 1961 and whose children have been searching for him over the years, homicide Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer said.
"We can't say for sure that it is the father, but we suspect that it is," Beyrer said.
The four Carroll children never got a straight answer from their mother, Dorothy Carroll, on what had happened to their father, police said. She died in 1998, records show.
"It was just always a family legend or lore that the father was buried in the basement since 1961," Beyrer said. "The father was a Korean War veteran. One of the stories they had over time was that he had moved back to Korea. So the family just never really knew."
George Carroll's son Michael Carroll, 57, who owns the Olive Street house, had even hired a company with ground-penetrating radar to examine the basement of the house, which has been in the family since at least 1955, Beyrer said.
Based on those results, Michael Carroll's two sons, both in their 20s, started digging a few months ago, working on and off in their spare time, police said.
Michael Carroll said they found the remains at 10 p.m. Tuesday and called family members to let them know. On Wednesday, they called police to the house about 2 p.m.
When he first saw the bones, Carroll, a respiratory therapist, said he had no doubt they were human. He believes they are his father's bones.
"I'm happy for my dad because he's out of there," he said in a brief interview. "He didn't deserve to be in the hole. Now I can give him a decent burial."
Over the years, the family had searched the internet for clues of their father's fate, the son said. When they bumped into people who could help, including psychics, he'd ask, "Do you know where my father is?"
Beyrer said there is no indication that a missing-persons report was filed for George Carroll, but investigators are looking into it further.
A forensic anthropologist will help examine the remains, police said.
"It's pretty far down," Beyrer told reporters at the scene, referring to the bones. "There's a hole in the basement probably 4 to 5 feet deep. It is under concrete."
The hole may be an old well, which some of the older Carroll children remembered had been covered up by concrete, police said. Carroll has three siblings.
Carroll said he was about 8 months old around the time his father disappeared. For him, he said, there are no memories of his father, but he has a photo, just one.