On Monday, June 18, around 4 p.m., Austral Avenue residents observed crime scene unit detectives from the Nassau County Police Department removing several boxes of evidence from a wooded area at the end of the street.
Absent an immediate explanation, rumors began to circulate around the block that human remains had been found. But both Glen Cove and Nassau County police denied that the evidence being collected was related to a murder.
Detective Maureen Roach of the Nassau County Police Department said that it was not the department’s Homicide Unit that called for the Crime Scene Unit to process the scene but declined to say which unit did make the call.
“There were no bodies, and no body parts found,” Detective Lieutenant John Nagle of the GCPD told the Herald Gazette. “There’s nobody dead in the woods. It’s a situation where we were looking for [pieces of] property,” he continued, adding that the evidence was part of an ongoing investigation, and that he could not elaborate further.
One Austral resident said she had heard from another neighbor that police had removed a severed arm from the area. Two people who live on Austral near the wooded area said they heard gunshots the evening prior to the search, which made them think that the police activity was related to a possible shooting victim.
Nagle said that the GCPD had responded to shots fired in the early morning of June 17 several blocks away on Janet Lane but hadn’t been notified about gunfire near Austral on the evening in question.
Some residents took to the Facebook group “Glen Cove Neighbors” to ask whether anyone knew anything about what happened. Others expressed frustration in the group that the police wouldn’t tell them what they had found.
“How come there isn’t the same amount of concern for the drug use and selling that happens on Austral?” asked one Facebook user who goes by the name “Jim Chris.”
A visual survey of the area suggests that it is well-trafficked by marijuana users and public drinkers. Little baggies and wrappers for “Dutch Masters” — both items commonly used by pot smokers — litter the ground inside and outside the fence between the street and playground, and the wooded slope down to Brewster Street behind the Dunkin Donuts parking lot is littered with broken beer bottles.
Given the reputation of wooded area behind Austral for attracting delinquents, the rumors that circulated among neighbors must have seemed more credible as they filled the vacuum left by reliable information. Tiffany Billings, who lives around the corner from the site where the police activity was, said that her kids used to play in the same place that the police had investigated, or traverse it en route to Cottage Row “Now,” she said, “we’re not letting our kids go outside anymore because of whatever’s going on over there and the fact that they’re not telling us anything.”
Sharon Stevens, who lives on Austral, said she was frustrated by the lack of information. “I guess we won’t find out what really happened down there,” she said, adding, “I just hope that the area is safe.”