East Hampton Town police have been hard at work this week trying to uncover the identity of a headless body that washed up on the beach on Gardiner’s Bay in Amagansett on Sunday.
A press release issued by the Town Police Department identified the body as that of a male of unknown ethnicity between 20 and 30 years old. It was discovered around noon between Big Albert’s Landing beach and the Bell Estate by a man walking his dogs. Higher than usual tides had been observed in the area around that time, and the wind had been blowing strongly from the east.
First on the scene was the East Hampton Marine Bureau, which confirmed that the corpse was human. The Town Police Dive Team was then called in to search the area; a missing finger was discovered, and the body was sent for identification to the Suffolk Medical Examiner’s office in Hauppauge.
The press release went on to characterize the body as “small in stature,” with “no obvious signs of trauma.”
When interviewed Tuesday, Town Police Chief Edward Ecker said the body was in the “very advanced stages of decomposition,” and was missing the left leg from the knee on down.
“There’s a lot of ship traffic in the Long Island Sound. It could be as simple as a boater that was lost. We just don’t know yet,” he said.
Police were working to pair the body up with a missing persons report, he said, but no one is currently reported as missing from any of the five East End towns. Further, he said, attempts to match the body found on Sunday with missing persons reports from a broader swath of territory, including coastal Connecticut and Rhode Island, have also so far proved fruitless.
One possibility is the disappearance on May 3 of Ward Wickens, a 33-year-old fisherman from Bear Point, Nova Scotia, who fell overboard from the ship Silver Angel about eight nautical miles south of Cape Sable Island, in the southwest of that province. Currents in the Gulf of Maine could conceivably have carried him toward the South Fork, helped along by strong east winds that were recorded for much of May.
When informed by a reporter of the details of the body found in Amagansett, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Barrington, N.S., began looking into a possible connection. Mr. Wickens roughly fits the description provided by the autopsy: He was within the estimated age range and possessed a slight build, at just under 5 feet 9 inches tall and around 150 pounds.
The chief took care to dismiss any connection to the string of corpses discovered near Jones Beach in Nassau County, some 100 miles to the west. Those, which have been attributed to a serial killer preying on prostitutes, have been found on a beach along the southern shore. Early reports that the body had been decapitated were incorrect, he said.
The investigation is ongoing and police hope to have more information sometime this week.