UPDATE: Discovery of 40-year-old human remains in Richmond Hill backyard likely to result in murder probe, Shea says

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Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said on Thursday that the NYPD will more than likely open a homicide investigation into the discovery of a partial, nearly 40-year-old skeleton unearthed from a Richmond Hill backyard earlier this week.

During a March 14 press conference at One Police Plaza, Shea indicated that the remains could be from a murder at the home that occurred about four decades ago, based on information provided by a witness. He cautioned, however, that it’s going to take time for detectives to follow leads and crack the case.

Members of the 102nd Precinct Detective Squad, the NYPD Queens Homicide Squad and Crime Scene Unit investigators came to the home on 115th Street between Jamaica and 89th Avenues at 11:30 a.m. on March 12. Shea said their visit was the result of information that the witness provided to them previously.

“A little over 40 years ago, she recalls now, she was present at this house and gave us info regarding the presence of a body that was buried, within plastic bags, in the backyard,” Shea said on March 14.

Detectives brought in cadaver dogs, which are trained to sniff out human remains, to explore the backyard — and the canines made indications that something was indeed buried there, according to Shea.

“The ensuing search disclosed that exactly where she recalled the remains would be, we did in fact find what would be human remains,” Shea reported.

The partial skeleton was exhumed and transported to the Medical Examiner’s office for testing. The Medical Examiner dispatched a forensic anthropologist to the scene to seek out further clues and evidence, Shea said.

The chief of detectives stated that the murder may be connected to a barber shop located in Queens — but as of yet, police have not been able to verify that information. Detectives have already ruled out the home’s current occupants as suspects, as they are “not connected to who was there at the time,” Shea said.

With so many questions still unanswered, he added, detectives have already begun pursuing various leads in what will likely be a long-term investigation.

“We’ve already interviewed a number of people,” Shea said. “Detectives have flown out of state on this case” to talk to people who may have information about the incident.

“But this will be a challenging case, as you can imagine, 40 some-odd years later,” he stated.

Anyone with information regarding the case can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. All calls are kept confidential.

Updated at 4:30 p.m. on March 14.

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