Skeleton found in abandoned Queens basement belongs to middle-aged man: NYPD

A human skeleton found in the basement of an abandoned Queens store is believed to be the remains of a middle-aged man, NYPD officials have revealed.

The skeleton was found in pieces under concrete by a construction crew doing renovation work on the long-vacant property on Jamaica Ave. near 120th St. in Richmond Hill, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said Tuesday.

The bones were discovered by a day laborer working in the basement on Jan. 29, Kenny said, noting that several of the bones are still missing.

“The skeleton itself is not intact,” Kenny said.

Detectives were working with the carting company assigned to the rehab project to see if the missing bones were dug up and thrown out accidentally.

The city’s Medical Examiner determined the bones to be human within a day of their discovery but the agency’s team of forensic anthropologists are still trying to determine the man’s identity and how he died.

There was no visible trauma to the bones themselves, Kenny said.

It’s not clear how long the skeleton had been buried in the basement. Photos taken by a Daily News photographer show a skull and other bones that appear to be caked in dirt.

Both cops and city Department of Building officials say the address has been vacant since 2002. Since the bones were found under concrete, they could have been buried there decades earlier.

Police investigate after skeletal remains were found in the basement of an unoccupied building at 119-22 Jamaica Avenue in Queens, New York City on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. (Gardiner Anderson for New York Daily News)
Police investigate after skeletal remains were found in the basement of an unoccupied building on Jamaica Ave. in Queens on Jan. 29, 2024. (Gardiner Anderson for New York Daily News)

The building was built in 1915, according to city records.

The current owner bought the property in 1986 and opened up an electronics store on the first floor and a barber shop on the second. In 2002, the owner of the barber shop destroyed the place and the building was condemned, the current owner told investigators.

Although it had been long abandoned, the building was not properly closed or sealed, according to property records. The roof caved in, which could be seen by people riding along the elevated subway line that runs past the property.

The Department of Buildings issued violations which haven’t been rectified, city officials said.

In October, the city received complaints of rodents coming from the address and other problems.

“It’s a vacant building, and the door to the basement is caving in,” one complaint read, requesting the city take immediate action “before someone gets hurt.”

An inspection of the building in November showed that the metal cellar hatch doors on the sidewalk had at one time been sealed with concrete but the concrete had been broken up.

“[It’s] hazardous to the public by creating a fall and tripping hazard,” the inspector determined.

The building was boarded off in January as a rehab project began by the person currently leasing the property, police said.

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