Queens DA: 2 Black Male Victims Bound, Fire 'Started To Cover Up Crime'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are investigating after firefighters discovered the bodies of two men while battling a brush fire in Queens.

Flames broke out just before 4:30 a.m. Wednesday at 159th Avenue and 78th Street in Howard Beach.

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“I heard fire engines. These weeds go up so often that it’s just common,” resident Jack Taravella told CBS 2’s Weijia Jiang.

As firefighters started to fight the heavy flames, they discovered the bodies of two adult black males in a grassy area adjacent to the Belt Parkway, police said.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said the victims were bound and possibly gagged.

“My guess is they weren’t there very long because the fire was started apparently to cover up the crime,” he told CBS 2’s Jiang.

The exact ages of the victims and whether they were clothed was difficult to tell, Brown said.

The field of wild weeds is part of Spring Creek Park, the largest amount of undeveloped land and wetlands in the northern Jamaica Bay area with the Belt Parkway on one side and a bustling neighborhood on the other.

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A witness told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman that he heard a car screeching through the area before he looked out the window and saw the blaze.

Crews found the bodies about ten feet away from the road. Several who live in the area called the discovery unsettling, but not necessarily surprising.

“Very desolate,” said resident Diana Felago. “You see strange people in here from time to time. I don’t feel safe.”

“If you wanted to dispose of something like that and not leave evidence, that may be what someone would do,” said resident Michael Silver.

Residents said several of the homes on 78th Street have surveillance cameras.

The medical examiner will determine the causes of death. The investigation in ongoing.

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