Babylon Body Parts Case: Leaked Crime Scene Photo Fuels Anxiety

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A photo of one of the severed body parts found in Babylon last month has been circulating on the Internet, further fueling fears gripping the community since the disturbing discoveries were made.

Suffolk County police confirmed that Homicide Squad detectives are aware that a photo of one of the arms is being shared on the internet — some cable news media even broadcast it — but authorities declined to comment other than to say the image was not released by the police department. 

“It’s rare, but there have been a few instances where the early release of information caused problems with an investigation,” Village of Babylon Mayor Mary E. Adams wrote in a message urging residents to be patient while waiting for answers in the case that shocked the region. “Evidentiary rules force them to keep updates only within the unit. That procedure enhances confidentiality of evidence.”

Crime scene photos are closely guarded by members of law enforcement, especially images that depict victims in homicide cases. Such images typically are only shown in court when prosecutors use them as evidence before a judge or jury during a trial.

Joe Giacalone, a former New York City Police homicide detective sergeant who commanded a cold case squad in the Bronx and is not a professor a John Jay College, agreed that early release f such images can “hamper an investigation.”

The case first made news on Feb. 29 when a girl walking to school in Babylon saw a body part sticking out of a pile of leaves on the side of a street at Southard Pond Park. Police searched the area over two days and found a female head, right upper leg, left leg from the knee down and right arm and two male arms. Days later, additional remains were also found on Lakeway Drive in West Babylon and at Bethpage State Park, were connected to the victims whose remains were first discovered in Babylon.

But shortly after that initial discovery, 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. Babylon school officials urged students to not share the photo.

“We understand that students may circulate potentially graphic photos of the crime scene investigation that took place near our schools,” Superintendent of Schools Carisa Manza said in a statement. “With that understanding, we advised teachers on how to speak with students about the incident, and had conversations with students and families on how to address photos of the crime scene that may be circulating on the internet and social media platforms. While we cannot stop students from viewing potentially disturbing content on the internet, we advised our students to avoid sharing such photos. Additionally, we have encouraged all students and staff who may be feeling anxious or upset about last week’s incident to take advantage of the mental health resources in all three of our buildings.”  

The woman whose remains were found was identified as 59-year-old Donna R. Conneely, whose last known address was in Yonkers, Suffolk County police said. The male victim was identified as Malcolm C. Brown, 53, also of Yonkers.

Amityville residents Steven Brown, 44, Jeffrey Mackey, 38, and Amanda Wallace, 40, and a suspect who police said was homeless, 33-year-old Alexis Nieves, were charged with hindering prosecution, tampering with physical evidence, and concealment of a human corpse. The four have pleaded not guilty and the investigation is continuing. The suspects were released without bail.

Despite the lack of murder charges, Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney continued to call the incident murder.

“It is our understanding that the Suffolk County Police Department is still investigating these murders,” Tierney said. “Unfortunately, due to ‘bail reform’ passed by the New York State Legislature in 2019, charges relating to the mutilation and disposal of murdered corpses are no longer bail-eligible, meaning my prosecutors cannot ask for bail. This is yet another absurd result thanks to ‘bail reform’ and a system where the Legislature in Albany substitutes their judgment for the judgment of our judges and the litigants in court.”