Crime Watch

FBI identifies murder victims found in Freeport-Merrick area


FBI officials have confirmed the identities of the murder victims found on Oct. 25 at Cow Meadow Park, at the southern end of South Main Street in Freeport, and in the woods between Commercial Street in Freeport and Babylon Turnpike in Merrick on Oct. 27.

Authorities identified the teen discovered at Cow Meadow as Javier Castillo, of Central Islip. He went missing in October last year.

The remains of Kerin Pineda, a former Freeport High School student, were found in the forest, just north of the Long Island Rail Road tracks that run parallel to Sunrise Highway.

According to a source close to this story, Pineda came to the United States from Honduras as an unaccompanied minor. He started his studies at Freeport High School in October 2014. He repeated the ninth grade twice, and he was no longer listed as a Freeport student as of March.

FBI officials were not commenting further about the murders at press time. The FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force continues to investigate.

The grim discoveries followed a third case two weeks ago in which the remains of 16-year-old Angel Soler, of Roosevelt, also a former Freeport High School student, were found in the woods adjacent to a neighborhood close to the Southern State Parkway, near the Baldwin-Roosevelt border. Soler was supposed to have begun school in Roosevelt. He went missing three months ago. It is believed that the El Salvadoran gang MS-13, or Mara Salvatrucha, may have killed him.

According to the knowledgeable source, Soler was also an unaccompanied minor from Honduras, specifically the city of Comayagua, which is located in the "violent Northern Triangle." According to the Council on Foreign Relations, hundreds of unaccompanied minors streamed out of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala in recent years to escape the drug trade and gang violence. The region was destabilized during the 1980s by a series of civil wars.

The source said that Soler's father was arrested and deported to Honduras last December. The source did not know the father's name.

According to a family friend, Soler and Pineda were friends. Soler’s mother, Suyapa, partnered with Pineda’s mother, Lilian Oliva-Santos, to look for their sons, with no success, according to the family friend, who spoke with the Herald via Facebook on Oct. 25.

Scott Brinton contributed to this story.