Tree-trimming crew finds human remains in Providence

Photo: Steph Machado | WPRI 12
Photo: Steph Machado | WPRI 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Police are investigating after human remains were found in Providence on Tuesday, Providence Police Maj. David Lapatin confirms.

“We have no idea who this person is,” Maj. Lapatin said less than two hours after the body’s discovery. He said the body appeared to have been there for months.

Police said a City of Providence clean-up crew was trimming trees along the Woonasquatucket River on San Souci drive between Valley Street and Manton Avenue when they came across the remains.

Lapatin said it appeared the body was there for a while. He declined to comment on the body’s condition or the person’s gender, and said it was too soon to determine if foul play was involved. He said police have an idea about the person’s gender but are waiting for medical examiner confirmation. He also said some clothing was recovered.

The Medical Examiner’s office and Providence Fire Department used a raft and ladder to remove the remains from the river. The scene was cleared around 3:30.

“They’re taking the remains to the morgue, and an autopsy will be performed tomorrow,” Lapatin said.

The location where the body was found is the same area where police were searching for Ana Martinez, 73, last year.

Martinez, who lives about a half mile from the San Souci Drive scene, wandered away from her Curtis Street apartment early Christmas morning last year. Surveillance video showed her walking out of the first-floor unit around 5 a.m. and making her way across the parking lot and through a metal gate in the direction of Broadway.

Lapatin said it was too early in the investigation to determine if the remains were hers, and said multiple people came to his mind when he heard a body was found in that location. Lapatin confirmed Martinez’s case is still open.