WASHINGTON — Search teams led by the Fairfax County police planned to continue combing through a park Thursday morning looking for human remains after a search on Wednesday came up empty.
The search may be linked to a growing gang problem.
Police said they are focusing their efforts around Holmes Run Park, which is just south of Bailey’s Crossroads.
“Acting on information recently received, detectives are searching for human remains,” police said in a statement. “These searches could continue for an extended period of time.”
Although it is not clear exactly what prompted the search efforts, police have indicated the situation is related to gang violence.
“We believe, preliminarily, that, yes, there may be a gang involvement in whatever event may have occurred,” said Lt. Brian Gaydos, spokesman for the Fairfax County Police Department.
Gaydos said the search at the sprawling Holmes Run Park could take days.
“It’s a very large park in Fairfax County. If we’re going to comb the park, that could take anywhere from two, three, possibly four days,” he said.
Investigators spent much of the day Wednesday searching through Lemon Road Park in the Falls Church area, but they did not find anything.
Search efforts have included homicide, gang unit and crime scene detectives along with cadaver dog teams from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department. A cadaver dog team from the Montgomery County Police Department in Maryland was also assisting.
Becky Choi, who lives close to Holmes Run Park, said she has seen a lot of activity this week from the local police and the FBI.
“We know there are gangs in the area,” she told WTOP. “I think people come into the park because it’s secluded and there’s access from four points.”
Thursday’s search marks the latest gang-related investigation amid several recent high-profile cases in Northern Virginia.
Damaris Alexandra Reyes Rivas, 15, was found dead Feb. 11 in Springfield in a suspected gang-related murder. Ten people have been charged in connection with that case, including five who face murder charges, and police suspect it is connected to a pair of missing persons reports.
Lizzy Rivera Colindres, 16, was reported missing in January from her Springfield home, but she returned last month. Similarly, Venus Lorena Romero Iraheta, 17, was also reported missing in January from her Alexandria home before she returned last month.
Another incident that appears to be connected to the cases happened in January in Prince William County. The body of 21-year-old Christian Alexander Sosa Rivas was discovered along the shoreline of the Potomac River in Dumfries. Six people have been charged.
Prince William County police have said that killing has ties to the street gang Mara Salvatrucha, commonly known as MS-13.
The general area of the police search: