A woman's long-dormant memory presented police with a murder mystery last week, her tip leading investigators to a skeleton buried for more than 40 years in the backyard of a Queens home.
On Monday, the NYPD received a report from a tipster who said she'd recently remembered the night when, back in the 1970s, she watched her mother's boyfriend chop up and inter a body. The woman believed the deceased had some connection to a local barbershop, although police have not yet determined which one. Without the official ruling from the medical examiner, they are investigating the cold case as a homicide.
"We'd really like to put a collar on it," Patrick Conry, director of the NYPD's Public Information office, told the NY Times. And according to the Daily News, which spoke to Chief of Department Dermot Shea, detectives have already "flown out of state" pursuing leads.
Yet everyone who lived at 87-72 115th Street at the time of the burial has since scattered, and the body itself has not turned up any missing persons reports. According to the Times, a "significant amount" of the deceased's tissue remains intact all these decades later, but even so, the medical examiner will need time to pinpoint the cause of death and piece together a profile of the victim.
Police sent 13 human officers and one K-9 to excavate the Richmond Hills site on Tuesday, uncovering two bags full of bones, which lined up with the tipster's memory. A police source told amNY that the woman "reported enough information for investigators to believe that the victim was killed by someone connected to a barber shop, dismembered, and buried."
The discovery did not seem to surprise longtime neighbors, two of whom told the Times that the apparent murder house used to attract a rotating cast of unsavory tenants. At the time of the suspected murder, 69-year-old John Guido said, "really bad guys" lived there, and frequently burgled his home.
Bill Corsa, who moved onto the block in 1980, agreed that 87-72 seemed to draw crime to the street. "I wasn't happy about it," Corsa said. Still, he continued, "I can't imagine how somebody buried a body and nobody noticed."
Well, one person noticed. Check back here for updates as the case develops. The NYPD told Gothamist Monday morning that "there are no updates at this time."