When news broke that a sex offender had been arrested after his girlfriend’s torso, arms, and legs were found at a trash facility in the Bronx, many horrified online commenters wondered how it was possible for a body to be dumped in such a densely populated area.
Police say that a sanitation worker was strong-armed into helping convicted sex offender Somorie Moses get rid of the remains of 32-year-old Leondra Foster, according to the Daily News. If an eagle-eyed bulldozer operator had not spotted her remains, Foster’s body could easily have disappeared forever among mountains of trash.
It may seem hard to believe in a city of more than 8 million people, but urban graveyards are hiding in plain sight.
Here are five more that have made headlines:
1. Ocean Parkway/Gilgo Beach, Long IslandIt’s been six years since police discovered more than 10 bodies around Gilgo Beach on Long Island while investigating Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old escort who disappeared in May 2010 after meeting a client she had arranged via Craigslist.
The case remains unsolved, but it’s clear that the “Long Island Serial Killer” chose this desolate stretch of highway for a reason: It’s remote, and the thick vegetation means that a body left there could be invisible from the highway even if it was only dumped a few feet away.
In 2011, clinical and forensic psychologist Barbara Kirwin told the Daily News: “That desolate stretch of Gilgo Beach is a haunted graveyard, and what holds it all together is that it is an unpatrolled, completely private and deserted place where you can dump a body.”
While searching for bodies, rescuers in the LISK case battled pine trees infested with poison ivy and had their clothes — and skin — torn by the prickly underbrush.
2. The East RiverNew York City’s East River has long been a dumping ground for dead bodies — and, sadly, a popular suicide site.
According to New York Magazine, bodies dumped in the river during the winter months often stay underwater and don’t resurface until April, when decomposition speeds up. The New York Daily News refers to the phenomenon, when the river’s waters warm, as the “Rites of Spring.”
Notorious serial killer Joel Rifkin dumped body parts of at least two of his victims in the East River. Between 1989 to 1993, it is believed that Rifkin murdered and dismembered between nine and 17 bodies.3. Fountain Avenue
Fountain Avenue is a street in Brooklyn that runs from Atlantic and Conduit Avenues in the north to the Belt Parkway in the south. It’s a desolate, industrial area where vacant lots and abandoned brick buildings are juxtaposed with landfill and swamplike forest growth.
Fountain Avenue has been infamous as a dumping ground for bodies of the Mob since the 1930s, when a group known as Murder, Inc. used the area as a dumping round.
Later Roy DeMeo, a Gambino soldier, was said to have disposed of as many as 200 bodies in the area. The most recent body discovered was Imette St. Guillen, a John Jay College graduate student, on February 25, 2006. Her body was wrapped in a blanket with packing tape around the eyes and mouth, and lying on a bank overlooking Jamaica Bay.
4. Pelham Bay Park
Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City and extends from the upper Bronx into Westchester County. From 1986 to 1995, at least 65 bodies were discovered in the park, according to the New York Times. The park’s remote location, accessibility from a nearby highway, and complete darkness also made the area a hotspot for ritualistic animal sacrifices. In the early 1990s, a young police officer saw two men exit the woods late at night, and when he stopped to question them, he noticed their blood-stained hands. Thinking that the men may have been shooting animals in the woods, he questioned them. They insisted that the officer would not find any dead animals in the woods, so he let them go — and later discovered a dead human.
5. The Meadowlands
Though technically located in New Jersey, the swampy Meadowlands area has long been known as another area where corpses simply disappear. The Mob used the area to dump toxic materials as well as dead bodies in the area, which has remained a vital home to birds and other waterfowl. Rumor has it that Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried in the area, but no trace of his remains have ever been found.
Main photo: Memorial at Fountain Avenue near Belt Parkway [Wikimedia Commons]