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Nassau police: 'Active' investigation in Massapequa Preserve

Nassau County police investigate at the Massapequa Preserve

Nassau County police investigate at the Massapequa Preserve on Friday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Police officers and homicide detectives streamed Friday into the heavily wooded Massapequa Preserve, the scene of a grisly find and several digs by authorities in the past few years.

Nassau County police spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun would say only that it was an "active" investigation. As darkness fell, police said investigators would return Saturday.

The sound of trees being cut could be heard Friday evening in the preserve, cordoned off at Ocean Avenue near Merrick Road, not far from the Nassau-Suffolk Greenbelt Trail and the preserve's largest body of water, Massapequa Lake.

Emergency service units, Seventh Precinct officers and homicide investigators gathered at the scene and remained there into the night. 

The 432-acre preserve is where, in 2017, officials said they recovered the body of a man police believe was the victim of an MS-13 street gang killing. Julio Cesar Gonzales-Espantzay, 19, had been stabbed and shot several times in January of that year, and his body was found that March, authorities said.

Authorities returned later that year, in October and November, to dig not far from where Gonzales-Espantzay was found, but they left without finding any remains. 

Then last November, police returned, searching for what law enforcement sources said was a body in connection to possible MS-13 gang activity. Authorities brought a digger into the woods, as well as a State Police K-9 unit cross-trained to detect narcotics and cadavers. Investigators from the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal Homeland Security Investigations were also at the scene, but  no remains were found.

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