Unidentified Human Skeletal Remains Found Off Long Island Parkway Ramp

Unidentified human skeletal remains were found in West Islip (Long Island Press photo)
Unidentified human skeletal remains were found in West Islip (Long Island Press photo)

A passerby discovered unidentified human skeletal remains on the side of a parkway exit ramp embankment in West Islip early Thursday morning, triggering an investigation, New York State police said.

The driver was heading eastbound on the Southern State Parkway, got off at Exit 40 to get on the Robert Moses Causeway southbound, and then pulled off onto the grass on the west side of the ramp when the discovery was made near the woods at about 7:15 a.m., police said.

“Something in the wood line caught his eye upon closer look, the individual believed it to be human skeletal remains and called 911,” Capt. Christopher Casale told reporters during a briefing at the scene.

The state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) and Forensic Identification Unit (FIU) responded to the scene and determined that the skeletal remains were in fact human, but many questions remain unanswered.

It was not immediately clear who the person was, how long the remains were there, or if the person was a victim of foul play. News12 Long Island reported that the remains were male, but police did not confirm that detail. The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s office responded to the scene and will perform tests to try to identify the remains and determine a cause of death.

In 2019, skeletal remains found on the side of the Southern State Parkway in Valley Stream were determined to be a 65-year-old Franklin Square man believed to have died of natural causes. In 2010, a body found on the side of the parkway in North Bay Shore was determined to be the victim of gang violence, resulting in the arrest of the suspects two years later.

If coroners are unable to identify the person found Thursday, a state law enacted in 2016 mandates that investigators upload details of the case to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), a national clearinghouse for missing, unidentified, and unclaimed person cases. As of this story, Suffolk County currently has 26 cases in Namus for unidentified human remains found between 1978 and 2016. The most recent Suffolk case in NamUs was an unidentified man found dead on the side of a Southern State Parkway exit ramp in East Farmingdale on Dec. 30, 2016.

Related Story: Long Island Coroners Seek ID for 38 Unidentified Human Remains