The body of a teenage boy found by a Queens birdwatcher on Sunday (21 May) has been identified as Julio Vasquez, an MS-13 gang member, officials said Tuesday (23 May).
The 16-year-old was found in Alley Pond Park with 28 stab wounds in the back and six more in the chest, authorities said. Police believe the body may have been at the park for up to a week, The New York Post reported.
The city medical examiner ruled Vasquez's death as a homicide, the New York Daily News reported. His body was badly decomposed and could not be immediately identified.
According to The Post, the teen was found wearing a long-sleeve hoodie, Armani blue jeans and Air Jordan trainers. A Los Angeles Dodgers baseball hat was found near the body. Police said the word "Familia" was tattooed on his chest.
Vasquez reportedly had a lengthy arrest record for various offenses, including gang assault, graffiti and weapons possessions. Police were able to use his arrest record to identify him through fingerprints.
The teen was wanted for questioning at the time of his death in an attempted robbery case in Queens in which the victim was stabbed, a police source told the Daily News. Authorities are investigating whether Vasquez was killed at the scene. A source told The Post that the sight was "probably a dump job".
MS-13, otherwise known as La Mara Salvatrucha, has been linked to a number of murders on Long Island, New York. In April, four young men were found beaten to death at a park in Central Islip. Two young girls were fatally beaten with a baseball bat and machete in Brentwood in March, The Post noted.