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Two bodies found at site of Howard Beach brush fire

Investigators scope out a crime scene next to

Investigators scope out a crime scene next to 78th Street in Howard Beach, Queens, after New York City firefighters found two bodies while responding to a brush fire early Wednesday morning. (March 6, 2013) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

New York City police were investigating the deaths of two men whose badly burned bodies were found during a brush fire in open parkland in Howard Beach early Wednesday.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told reporters at a morning briefing Wednesday that the victims appear to have had plastic trash bags over them that melted and may have given investigators an initial impression that the men were bound.

"I am not sure whether or not at this point they were bound," Kelly said.

Late Wednesday police had identified through fingerprints one of the victims as a 23-year-old man with a criminal record but weren't releasing his name until his family was notified. The second victim had been tentatively identified but police needed to do more work before disclosing a name.

"We are obviously looking for video cameras, something we always do at the scene of the crime," said Kelly, adding that he couldn't say what the cause of death was. But he said it was "more than likely" that the men were killed at a different location.

The city medical examiner's office was scheduled to perform autopsies Thursday to determine the cause of death. A police official late Wednesday said the killings may have stemmed from a personal dispute as opposed to gang violence.

The bodies were discovered after firefighters responded to a 4:12 a.m. call about a brush fire near 159th Avenue and 78th Street, Queens, an intersection that is adjacent to Spring Creek Park, a wetland area on the western edge of Howard Beach, just south of the Belt Parkway.

The park area, about 2 miles west of Kennedy Airport, has earned a reputation over the years for being an occasional dumping ground for bodies. Kelly couldn't say exactly were the remains were found in the park.

With Kevin Deutsch

and Joseph Mallia

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