By Mark Hallum
A 16-year-old St. Albans youth who was stabbed at least two dozen times and found dead in Bayside’s Alley Pond Park Sunday was probably the victim of a gang murder, police said. It was the first homicide in the precinct since 2014.
Police traced the identity of the “severely decomposed” remains through dental records and said the victim was Julio Vasquez of 166th Street.
The NYPD said the killing may have been gang-related but would not confirm the victim’s affiliation with the notorious MS-13 gang.
The Vasquez family did not answer the door at their one-family home on a quiet residential street. But graffiti on a brick post at the victim’s address showed an MS-13 symbol painted in black.
NY1 reported that Vasquez had five prior arrests, including charges of robbery, gang assault and criminal mischief. This could not be independently confirmed with the police or the Queens district attorney.
Police said they had no leads in the case.
Vasquez’s body was originally spotted by a birdwatcher in a remote section of the park and the police originally thought it was a female, but later corrected the report.
The body was discovered in a remote and heavily wooded part of the park known for its natural and ungroomed wetlands.
Police from the 111th Precinct responded to a call at about 1 p.m. Sunday about an unconscious person within the vicinity of 76th Avenue and Cloverdale Road. But when EMS arrived on the scene, they pronounced the individual dead.
Geoffrey Croft, of the group Park Advocates, said the green space where the body was found is dense with vegetation and outside of the precinct’s usual coverage area, creating a prime opportunity for illegal and violent acts to take place sight unseen.
“We’ve been calling for dedicated park enforcement for a long, long, long time,” said Croft, who said Vasquez had been in the park for six days before he was found. “Central Park has a lot of [vegetation], too, and they have a 100 people assigned over there. It is hard when there’s no one assigned there. It’s obviously a pretty horrifying thing to discover as a park go-er. But certainly we could use a little more of a police presence in that park.”
The last time a homicide took place in Bayside was December 2014, when 4-month-old Nevin Janduher was admitted to Flushing Hospital where he died. His father, Jagsheer Singh, was later sentenced to 18 years for the child’s death, which resulted from physical abuse.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall