Nassau County police detectives believe skeletal remains discovered Monday buried in Lattingtown belong to a female but cautioned an examination was required to be sure.
The skeleton was discovered with women’s clothing–pants and undergarments, according to Homicide Squad Det. Lt. John Azzata–and was buried on a dirt roadway near the end of Sheep Lane overlooking the Long Island Sound.
Police descended on the North Shore village after a woman’s dog sniffed out the buried remains during a stroll around 3 p.m Monday, Azzata said.
“As she’s walking her dog, her dog starts digging at the sand, she approaches the dog, she starts digging and she unearths human skeletal remains,” he added.
“We believe we are dealing with a female skeleton,” who is between 20 and 30 years old, Azzata said. “There was women’s clothing with the body, but again don’t attribute that to being a woman.”
Investigators are hoping that a distinct-looking gold necklace with a pig pendant will help them identify the remains.
The animal symbolizes luck in some cultures. The pig is one of the 12 zodiac animals in Chinese culture and signifies different years. Detectives have already started focusing on the years between 1970 and 1985, hoping the pendant may help identify a birth year.
“The best lead we have so far is the necklace,” said Azzata, noting that 24-karat necklaces are popular in Asian and Indian jewelry shops.
The homicide commander was quick to address whether the discovery is connected to the highly publicized case regarding bodies found along Ocean Parkway, saying it’s too early in the investigation to do so.
“Any similarities or dissimilarities to the South Shore would be inappropriate for me to comment on at this point,” he said. “Obviously we’re near the water, bodies were found near the water, that’s a similarity, but there are other dissimilarities.”
Following Monday’s discovery, police performed a grid search on foot to determine if other remains were in the area. Nassau police also enlisted the help of Suffolk County police to use their cadaver dogs to search the area. No other remains were discovered, police said.
A forensic anthropologist will examine the bones to help police better understand when the victim was born and how long the remains were buried, authorities said.
“You’re in a climate there where there’s water and sand and that has to be taken into consideration with the deterioration,” Azzata said of the difficulty determining how long the remains were underground. Police didn’t release a cause of death, but noted there was trauma to the body.
After the discovery, Azzata said he called Suffolk to inform them: “I have a victim near the water.”
Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the remains. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-244-TIPS. All calls are anonymous.