Discovery of Severed Body Parts in Babylon Puts Village on Edge

Half Hollow

A child finding a severed arm and Suffolk County police unearthing five more dismembered body parts nearby shocked the Village of Babylon, a community known for its popular downtown — not grisly crimes.

The disturbing discoveries prompted the Babylon Elementary School to suspend outdoor recess while investigators searched neighboring Southards Pond Park for more human remains Thursday and Friday. Speculation ran rampant about who could be the killer. And fear so gripped the community that village officials went door to door to try to calm the nerves of residents who live closest to the crime scene.

“The last few days have been filled with anxiety, tragedy and sadness,” Babylon Village Mayor Mary E. Adams wrote in a message to the community, adding that police assured her that officers will conduct additional patrols of the area. “We now await answers.”

Suffolk averages about 30 homicides annually, but this case marks the first time in a decade that a killer scattered the severed remains of a murder victim. Leah Cuevas is currently serving 25 years to life in prison after being convicted of murdering a woman in New York City and discarding the victim’s body parts in Bay Shore and Hempstead in 2014.

In the current case, authorities said a girl was walking to school when she discovered the severed left arm of a man on the west side of Siegel Boulevard between Park Avenue and Mason Avenue at 8:40 a.m. Thursday. The secluded stretch of street bordered by Southards Pond Park — a spawling forest with a pedestrian path that runs through it — to the west and Babylon Cemetery to the east, is a short walk from the village’s bustling main drag lined with shops and restaurants. The girl called her father, who responded to the scene and dialed 911.

A Canine Unit cadaver dog later discovered a leg in a mound of leaves on the western side of the park near Graham Place, which is near the elementary school, police said. The same dog found a right arm about 20 feet away from where the girl made the initial discovery, authorities added. 

Babylon School District Superintendent Carisa Manza emailed parents that recess was held indoors “out of an abundance of caution and not to interfere with the investigation.” The park was temporarily closed during the search and reopened after the search ended Friday.

Both arms had tattoos and appeared to belong to the same man, according to investigators. A photo that appeared to be of one of the arms in a pile of brush that was circulating on social media appeared to show at least one of the fingertips missing and a tattoo that appeared to say “Sandy” on the back of the hand. Police confirmed that they are aware of the photo, but declined further comment other than to say that the department did not release the image.

Suffolk medical examiners determined that a leg severed from the knee down, a right upper leg, a decapitated head, and a right arm found on the western side of the park are believed to be of an adult woman, police said. 

“Based on the condition, preliminarily, it appears it’s a small amount of days, if not hours, that they were out here,” Det. Lt. Kevin Beyer, commander of the Suffolk police Homicide Squad, told reporters.

Detectives and medical examiners are working to identify the victims, find where the rest of their remains may be, and arrest whoever killed them. If coroners are unable to identify the pair, a New York 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 currently has 24 cases in Namus for unidentified human remains dating back to 1978. The most recent Suffolk case in NamUs was an unidentified man’s skeletal remains found in the backyard of a Brentwood home on March 3, 2018.

Homicide Squad detectives, ask anyone with information to contact them at 631-852-6392 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-Tips. All calls will remain anonymous.

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