Suffolk County police announced Thursday that they have identified the person found dead in a burning vehicle in the parking lot of a Nissequogue beach two days ago as Lauren Fontana of Middle Island.
Police also said that Homicide Squad detectives are continuing the investigation after they found the 45-year-old woman’s body in an SUV in the parking lot of Short Beach, a park run by the Town of Smithtown, on Tuesday.
Homicide Squad Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick told reporters at the crime scene on Tuesday that the body was “extensively damaged” to the point where investigators initially couldn’t tell if the body was male or female.
Fitzpatrick added that investigators were hopeful that dental records or the SUV’s license plate would help them identify the body.
The investigation started just after noon on Tuesday when Nissequoge Fire Department firefighters responded to a 911 call from someone in the parking lot of Short Beach. After firefighters extinguished the fire they discovered the body inside the car and notified police.
Police blocked off the entrance to the beach, which overlooks the Smithtown Bay and Long Island Sound.
Several dozen residents of the upscale North Shore neighborhood were shocked to hear that a body was found in their quiet, picturesque village.
“It’s a little creepy,” said a neighbor who lives near the scene on Short Beach Road.