The remains were found by a construction worker in Richmond Hill, Queens
Skeletal remains were found in the basement of a house under construction in Queens, New York on Monday.
Police responded to a 911 call of bones discovered at 119-22 Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill, Queens, on Monday afternoon around 1:55 p.m., the New York Police Department tells PEOPLE.
“Upon arrival, officers were informed by a construction worker that they had discovered bones in the basement of the location,” says the NYPD.
The investigation remains active and ongoing, confirms the NYPD.
The deceased’s sex could not be confirmed by police. Additionally, NYPD could not confirm whether or not the full body was recovered or how the person died.
The building received a Department of Buildings violation on Nov. 14, 2023. The violation reported the building’s failure to seal up the basement doors’ opening. The building was previously sealed off with concrete, which eventually was broken up. As a result, the building was no longer secure against unauthorized access and safeguarded from the public.
The 2023 violation followed complaints the month prior of rodents escaping the basement.
One complaint reported that the home’s top had “caved all the way in and is visible from the train that rides past,” reports the New York Daily News.
More recently, the building had been boarded off in anticipation of a rehab project.
One neighbor told the New York Post that the building had been unoccupied for more than 20 years. “The building had a fast food joint [on the ground floor] — a chicken place there, then they had a deli,” said the neighbor. “They had tenants on top.”
“The building caught fire, and they never fixed it,” he added. “So it was empty all these years.”
“They used to do a lot of drugs in this area,” added the neighbor. “It could be a squatter — who knows.”
A nearby resident named Mike shared with the New York Post that for the past five years, he’s been curious and suspicious of the empty building. He shared he became suspicious after he smelt a “foul” odor on a walk around “five to seven years ago.”
Once the authorities arrived on Monday, Mike shared information about the incident from years ago. “I am not surprised because I smelled something and they didn’t respond to me,” he added.
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Representatives for the New York Office of Chief Medical Examiner and Department of Buildings did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for more information on Wednesday.
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