The neighborhood straddling the county line is like so many around Long Island: Rows of colonial style homes, some waving American flags; some adorned with lawn grottos honoring the Virgin Mary.
One of those statues is flanked by flowers at 1 Hallock Street. A Teddy bear and a flickering memorial candle rest next to the home's front-yard gate.
The flame illuminates a name; it says: "RIP Justin."
Shock and disbelief have rattled this Farmingdale neighborhood where the body of Justin Kowalczik was recovered Friday night from a shallow backyard grave .
State Police had nothing new to make public Monday about the death of the child, born in 2009 and who would have been about 3 now. Justin was unaccounted for and his death had gone unreported for about a year and a half.
Some residents and those familiar with the neighborhood, located just east of the Suffolk County border, expressed dismay over the events. Toys are strewn in the front yards of this middle class enclave. A pretty tree-lined park with slides and swings is just around the corner.
Some declined to give their full names; many said they've been inundated with media requests for interviews. Others brusquely waved off reporters and camera crews Tuesday afternoon.
"I was so shocked," said neighbor David Boldi. "My brother called me and told me. I knew it was odd to see a state cop car there."
Boldi said he only met Heather once, walking along the street with "her little one," a reference to 6-year-old Alex, who is reported to be autistic.
"It's such a shame," he said.
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The State Police vehicle is gone from the driveway. On Monday, a white van pulled up and placed the Teddy bear, candle and assorted flowers along the sidewalk fence.
A note was left by a group called "Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect." It urged visitors to cut strips of blue ribbons to the fence.
Two young men familiar with the neighborhood were working together to repair their car on Hallock Street.
"I saw her twice, running across the street (Conklin Street) with the two kids, heading over to the deli," said Mike, who offered only his first name. "I've been coming around here about 6 months and it's not a crappy neighborhood. And now this."
The owner of the Broadway Deli, just east of Hallock Road across busy Conklin Street, said Heather Kowalczik was a regular at his store.
"She would come in when I was busy, in the morning, early afternoon, mostly with the young one on school days," said the man, who asked that his name not be used. "It's a shame. What was he: 17, 18 months old?"
The deli's owner said he never saw Robert Rodriguez, the man State Police identified as a "person of interest" in the case. Rodriguez spends time at the house with Heather, but is not Justin's father.
Rodriguez has refused to cooperate with authorities and has hired a lawyer, according to the New York Daily News.
Heather Kowalczik told police where they could find the remains of her son, State Police commander of Troop L in Farmingdale, said Saturday. Kowalczik told news outlets that Rodriguez had threatened her. She has been placed in a safe house away from Rodriguez, reports indicated.
No one has been charged in connection with the infant's death.
An autopsy is being conducted to determine how the infant died, authorities said. The preliminary results could take several days.
Kowalczik and Rodriguez have two sons together, Alex, 6, and Robert Jr., 9. An Amber Alert for Robert Jr. set in motion the weekend's events. Rodriguez had learned of the police probe and snatched Robert Jr. from the home, police said.
They were found a short time later and the boy was unharmed. Both children are being cared for by child protective services, reports indicate.