Prosecutors say man admitted to dismembering woman whose remains were found in E. Patchogue


Note: This report has been updated since the suspect’s appearance in court.

Suffolk Police arrested a man in connection to the human remains discovered Thursday afternoon in East Patchogue, and prosecutors say he admitted to “butchering” the woman’s body with an ax “when she passed away.”

Neither police nor prosecutors have confirmed that the remains are those of Yvette Leonard, a 56-year-old Patchogue woman who has been missing since June 13, only saying in court that the victim had been missing since that date.

But Leonard’s son Malyk has written publicly that the “deceased body found” is “believed to be my mother,” while qualifying his statement by adding the “identity of body not confirmed.”

In his most recent Facebook post today, Malyk Leonard said that the person arrested, Garry Cowell, 72, of 20 Edwards St., is the “person last known to be with mother.” Cowell — charged with tampering with evidence and concealment of a human corpse — was arraigned at First District Court in Central Islip Friday afternoon.

Even at his court appearance, where Cowell pleaded not guilty, according to a Newsday report, the victim’s identity was not made public.

“When she passed away, rather than attempt to render aid, he took an ax and butchered her and put the pieces of her body in a shopping cart,” said Assistant District Attorney Patrick Fedune, the Newsday report reads.

Fedune further stated that Cowell “admitted cutting up the victim’s body and scattered them around Suffolk County.”

He has not been charged for killing the woman. The cause of death was not released.

“Thank you for all your help in finding my mother,” Malyk Leonard, who lives in Brooklyn, wrote on Facebook Friday.

Yvette Leonard, 56, with her son, Malyk, in a photo that circulated after her disappearance. (courtesy)

Click here for the full Newsday report.

During an investigation by Fifth Squad detectives, remains were discovered along Montauk Highway near County Road 101 at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, police said.

The Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner will be conducting an autopsy and identifying the body, police said.

According to property records, Cowell’s residence at 20 Edwards St. appears to be a group home described as a simplex and owned by a nonprofit group that provides support for low-income, disabled and homeless individuals and families.

Greater Long Island is withholding the name of the nonprofit group.

Since Leonard went missing on June 13, Malyk has been publicly using social media and boots on the ground to conduct a search for his mother, who was reported missing to police on June 18.

She was last seen walking on Edwards and Terry streets in Patchogue. She lived in a house on Terry Street.

Prior coverage

Top: Suffolk Police homicide investigators in Babylon in April of 2024. (GLI file photo/Michael White)

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