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Investigators uncover second May Road body

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POTSDAM — State police on Monday night uncovered the remains of a second person buried behind a mobile home at 733 May Road in the town of Stockholm.

The body, which shows significant decomposition, was buried only in a blanket, Lt. John R. Coryea said. “The bottom of the body is still frozen to the ground,” he said. “So technically, we haven’t exhumed it yet, but we are very close.”

“We can’t even say 100 percent that it is human, but with the totality of the situation and with the information and location of the two bodies we were looking for, we feel comfortable saying that the remains are human,” Mr. Coryea said.

The discovery is part of the search for a couple in their 80s, Alvin and Betty Babcock. Cousins of Mrs. Babcock said they lost contact with her two years ago. The May Road trailer, now vacant, had been occupied most recently by Robert Bartlett, an acquaintance of the Babcocks who used to drive them on errands, relatives said.

No charges have been brought in the matter, which began as a welfare fraud investigation and became a missing-person investigation last week. Mr. Bartlett was undergoing mental health evaluation as of late last week.

The first body, discovered Friday afternoon, was wrapped in a cloth and had been placed in a wooden box lined with concrete.

Recovery of the second body is taking longer than expected, after snow and below-zero temperatures over the weekend forced investigators to shut down the two 4-million-BTU propane heaters they were using to thaw the ground.

Work resumed Monday, with the forensics team digging slowly with tools not unlike those of an archaeologist so as not to disrupt evidence. As the ground thawed, the team had to run pumps to discard all the water that pooled in the search area.

“They have to have a clear view of what they are doing, and they are in their on their hands and knees with their little shovels getting down in it and trying to do this very delicately,” St. Lawrence County Coroner James M. Sienkiewycz said. “They have been at this all day.”

Mr. Sienkiewycz said he went to the scene three times Monday before he was able to identify the findings as human remains.

“They are wrapped in a cloth in the earth right now, and we are just waiting for Mother Nature to cooperate so we can remove the remains,” he said. “Everything has to come out very gently, so they are moving very slowly, very professionally, and they are doing an amazing job.”

Investigators initially found only the tip of the blanket exposed, but at midday Monday, the size and shape of the remains and the way they were buried matched information that authorities were told to look for, Mr. Coryea said.

The remains were to be sent Monday night to Albany Medical Center, where autopsies are scheduled to be conducted at 11 a.m. today.

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