WASHINGTON — Authorities in Fairfax County say the human remains discovered in a sprawling suburban park are likely linked to gang activity in Northern Virginia.
The discovery came after a tip to police earlier in the week sparked a two-day search of Holmes Run Park, south of Bailey’s Crossroads in Lincolnia, Virginia.
“I can just assure you that this is gang activity,” said Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler during a Friday news conference about the discovery of the remains.
The remains were discovered late Thursday night about 300 yards into the park from the intersection of Crater Place and Yellowstone Drive, police said. Roessler said the remains have not yet been identified and are awaiting autopsies by the medical examiner’s office.
Roessler said it’s unclear whether the victims were killed in the park or their remains were dumped there. Roessler said police are still processing the crime scene to rule out the possibility of finding additional remains.
About two years ago, police discovered two bodies in the same park — slayings that were eventually linked to area gangs.
“This problem is horrible,” Roessler said. “This is four murders in this park. Obviously, we’ve had other murders in the region in the past few weeks. This is getting out of control, and we need to stop it.”
Roessler declined to name the gang believed to be linked to the slayings, saying he was “not going to advertise for gangs.”
Experts say the MS-13 gang, which has roots in Los Angeles and Central America, has been responsible for a spike in gang activity in the D.C.-area suburbs over the past few years.
Last month, police discovered the body of 15-year-old Damaris Reyes Rivas, in an industrial park in Springfield, Virginia. A total of 10 people, including six teens, have been charged in her disappearance and death.
Police have said the teen’s killing is also connected to the death of 21-year-old Christian Alexander Sosa Rivas, whose body was found along the shoreline of the Potomac River in Dumfries, Virginia, last month.
Authorities said Friday they don’t have any details about the suspects in the remains found Thursday and asked the public to send tips to police.
“We need information,” Roessler said. “We have murderers out there running around. We need to bring them to justice, so we need more help.”
The police chief also said parents and community members need to be aware of the “red flags” of young people “being sucked into gangs.”
“There needs to be no fear in calling the Fairfax County police and asking for us to intervene with our young people to get them out of gang activity to prevent tragedies,” he said.