Skull and bones found in Greenpoint backyard

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

By Dan MacLeod and Gersh Kuntzman

Alas, poor Yorick — no one knew him well, apparently.

Neighbors and other gawkers had no explanation on Monday for the mysterious skull, teeth and vertebrae that were discovered over the Memorial Day weekend in the backyard of a Greenpoint home.

Police showed up at 119 Kent Street between Franklin Street and Manhattan Avenue on Saturday at around noon, at least one day after a work crew unearthed the bones while making room for a patio.

“[Police] said it was a woman’s skull. It’s strange, but it’s not the strangest thing in my life,” said Sean Green, the building’s owner. “It looks pretty old, it’s ancient. You know, this house goes back to 1867. You never know when that skull was buried back there.”

By Sunday, it was the talk of the neighborhood.

“Nothing surprises me anymore,” said Miriam Wright, who lives one block away. “This place is so old. If you dig a little deeper, you’ll always find something.”

The Kent Street house is, indeed, old — and its age may have something to do with the macabre discovery.

The house, which has a plaque on it that says it was built in 1856, was the home of Dr. Moses Seley from 1905 until his death at age 89 in 1967, according to his obituary in The New York Times.

It is widely believed that doctors in an earlier age would use bones for medical research and merely bury them.

Other neighbors speculated that the remains were from burials at the Church of the Ascension, which is next door to the three-story house.

In any event, few people seemed concerned.

“Back 100 years ago, times were rougher,” said Ulona Inac, who works on the block. “If it was something like 10 years old, that’s scary.”

The NYPD said there was no sign of foul play at the scene, but detectives are investigating it as a crime scene. A police spokesman referred questions to the medical examiner, who could not be reached on Monday.

This isn’t the first time a gruesome find was made in the area. In 1872, the son of a blacksmith came upon a headless skeleton while setting a rat trap underneath an adjoining butcher shop at 57 Greenpoint Ave., and in 1901, a maid found a skeleton in the basement of 101 Java St.

In case you were wondering (we were) the house does not appear to be haunted.

“There was never a bump in the night or visits from any ghosts,” said Vance.

Updated 5:24 pm, July 9, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Don’t miss our updates:

Reasonable discourse

SwampYankee from no longer here says:
This hipster was probably an urban archeologist and was looking for the secret hidden Long Island Rail Road tunnel and forgot to eat. Either that or he was looking for a band so far underground it could never be found.
May 31, 2011, 10:27 am
Pearl Duncan from Tribeca, New York says:
A few comments about the history of this street and this neighborhood from a New Yorker. I've researched New York neighborhoods and New York stories, but this one is unusual, but it is typical of a place with so much history. The World Trade Center sits on an old colonial cemetery. I've written about the area for, a New York news blog.
June 2, 2011, 7:06 am
johnjosephpeter skowronskijunior from 590 lenoard street brooklyn says:
hello john joseph peter skowronski junior social security 052-56-5285 mail code o52565285 employment income needed thank you
Nov. 29, 2011, 2:17 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Keep it local!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter: