SALT POND, Long Island — Two days after Melissa Hui, 34, and her mother Jane Harding, 62, were reported missing, police discovered their bodies in shallow graves on a beach in Salt Pond, Long Island.
Police said last night that they have a man in custody who is assisting them with the investigation.
Locals, who were assisting police in the search for the women, discovered Harding’s body at 10:30 a.m., buried in sand north of a large bluff in the area known locally as Bamboo Bay.
Superintendent Hurvin Curtis, who arrived on the island with a police team from the capital yesterday morning, said that Harding’s body was partially nude when found.
“While we are in our early stage of the investigation,” Curtis said at the scene.
“We have SWAT officers along with K9 and detectives combing to try and locate the other female.”
Hours later, around 4:20 p.m., police found a body they suspect is Hui’s, buried in the sand, near a dune just south of the same bluff.
Assistant Superintendent Warren Rogers, who is based on Long Island, yesterday thanked the community for its assistance and gave his condolences to the family of the victims.
“I just want to, on behalf of the Commissioner of Police Mr. Anthony Ferguson, thank the general public at large,” he said.
“I could say that from day one when the police received information, we had boots on the ground 24/7. And the community, at large, assisted in a large part in recovering these two bodies today.
“And so, we also want to give the family members of these two missing persons our deepest sympathy.
“The investigation at this time is ongoing.”
Police have classified both deaths as murders.
Long Island MP Adrian Gibson said yesterday he was deeply saddened by the incident.
“To have their lives abruptly taken for reasons we will never understand has truly shaken our community to the core,” he said in a statement.
“In such a time as this, I remind Long Islanders of the importance of family and the community values which have shaped our island.
“Indeed, we are a resilient people.
“I thank the concerned and selfless Long Islanders who conducted and assisted with the searches and who embodied the essence of Coretta Scott King’s sentiments that the greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.
“To the family, my heartfelt condolences are extended to you. The people of Long Island stand with you.”
The saga that shook up the typically quiet island began on Wednesday morning, when Hui didn’t show up for work at Long Island Petroleum, a gas station just a few hundred feet from the home she shared with Harding.
Hui’s concerned employers asked a relative who lived nearby to check on her. He found the house she shared with her mother empty, with nothing missing except the two women.
Their car was still parked outside. Harding’s walking stick was still in the home, and a cup of tea was untouched.