Two Men Shot and Dismembered After Drug Deal Gone Bad
by Conor Greene
A Middle Village man has been charged with the murder of two men who went missing from Long Island last month after a drug deal gone bad, said police.
Darren Lynch, 28, is accused of shooting two men inside his 68th Avenue apartment and cutting up their bodies after buying $20,000 worth of fake cocaine, according to police. The men’s dismembered bodies were found last week near Lynch’s parents’ house on Long Island.
He was arrested late last Wednesday by Suffolk County Police Department detectives and members of the NYPD and charged with two counts of second-degree murder. Police say he admitted the following day to shooting both men inside his apartment and later dumping their bodies in a shallow grave behind his parent’s Coram house and in a nearby sump.
During the raid of Lynch’s apartment, police found a large quantity of drugs and weapons, including a loaded AK-47, Tec-9 machine pistol, several handguns and rifles and a bulletproof vest, according to police. They also found several books about serial killers on the kitchen table, next to a collection of pornography.
Lynch’s girlfriend, Leah Reynolds, who shared the apartment at 79-42 68th Avenue, has been charged with helping transport the bodies to Coram, Suffolk County, and hiding the murder weapons at her mother’s house in Holtsville, said police. The investigation began several days after the July 16 disappearance of Joseph Odierno, 35, of Miller Place and Jairo Santos, 22, of Washington Heights, who was a student at the C.W Post campus of Long Island University in Old Brookville.
The two men were last seen that day on the campus and were believed to be heading to Coram in Odierno’s Cadillac Escalade to meet an unidentified person. Initially, police deemed the men had disappeared under “suspicious circumstances” and launched a joint investigation between authorities from Suffolk County, who were looking into Odierno’s disappearance, and Old Brookville, which was handling Santos’ case.
Days after Odierno was reported missing, his wife activated the OnStar tracking system on her husband’s Cadillac, which was found by the NYPD on Gates Avenue in Middle Village. The break in the case came on July 23, when police located the third man, who told them that Lynch had kidnapped Odierno and Santos.
Based on the witness’s statement, police determined that Odierno, Santos, Lynch and the unidentified man traveled to a location in Coram, where Lynch paid another group of men $20,000 for what he thought was a kilogram of cocaine. After the sellers left, Lynch realized the bag contained sugar and baking powder, at which point he pulled a gun on the Odierno, Santos and the third man.
Lynch told the men to drive him to Washington Heights in hopes of finding the sellers. The unidentified man was able to flee after Lynch told him to go inside an apartment building and get the dealers.
Lynch then forced Odierno and Santos to drive to his Middle Village apartment, where he tied the men up and shot them several times in the kitchen, according to police. He then placed the bodies in the bathtub and cut them up using a power saw before transporting them to Long Island, said police.
Reynolds, who followed Lynch’s instruction to go into another room in the apartment while he shot the men, has been charged with first-degree hindering apprehension. She went with Lynch when he transported the bodies, and told police she hid three handguns used in the murder in her mother’s house, said police.
Lynch was arraigned last Friday in First District Court in Central Islip and ordered held without bail. He has a prior jail record for crimes involving drugs and firearms, according to police. Suffolk County Chief of Detectives told the New York Post that Lynch “admitted to us that he survived on a diet of steroids, cocaine and health food.” His sister, Erin Lynch, told Newsday that the family is “embarrassed and hurting” due to the charges.
On 68th Avenue in Middle Village, neighbors described Lynch as “troubled” according to a report in the Daily News. “We knew he was a troubled young man who was in and out of jail,” said Jenn Kohen, a family friend who lives across the street. “But one thing is to be in trouble with the law and another to kill people and cut them to pieces.”
On Tuesday, police announced the arrest of a second man in connection with the double murder, James Wall, 28, of Coram. He was allegedly in involved in the kidnapping, and under New York State law, a participant in an abduction that leads to a murder can be charged with murder. Police refused to reveal the extent of his involvement or say whether he was present when Odierno and Santos were shot.