Forty years ago, a woman in Queens witnessed a body being buried in her backyard and Monday she finally broke her silence and tipped police off about the shallow grave.
The unidentified woman had a rough idea of where the remains lay, somewhere behind the Richmond Hill townhouse where she had grown up, and within 24 hours police had zoned in on the exact spot where the body was buried, The New York Times reported.
The backyard was a hive of activity as forensic anthropologists unearthed the decaying human bones. The remains were taken to the city's medical examiner, but an official told the Times it could take a while before anything concrete could be deduced about the cause of death.
Now community members and experts alike are scrambling to solve the mystery and offering their own theories.
One nearby resident, John Guido, has lived in the area for 40 years and said the house where the remains were uncovered was a rental property that attracted "really bad guys" in the 70s.
"They broke into my house," he told the Times. Another resident, Bill Corsa, described the house as a blight.
An unnamed source told ABC News the tipster claimed to have woken up in the middle of the night to find her mother's boyfriend cutting up a body and putting it in bags. The report has not been confirmed.
Meanwhile, police are left grasping at straws as they attempt to crack the homicide case.
"We'd really like to put a collar on it," said Patrick Conry, the director of the Police Department's public information unit.