Among his neighbors on Pine Avenue in Aquebogue, Lee Pederson was known as a friendly man, who worked on antique engines and kept the 1930s cottage his parents previously owned in meticulous shape.
Not someone they might suspect to be in trouble, neighbors were alarmed when his house was transformed into a crime scene Sunday night and Monday.
Riverhead police, following up on a welfare check, found Mr. Pederson, 69, dead inside his home shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday, the victim of a gunshot wound. His death is being investigated as a homicide, Suffolk County police said.
Det. Lt. Kevin Beyrer, the head of Suffolk’s homicide squad, said no weapon was found inside the home and police are working to determine the type of gun used through a ballistic test. There was no sign of forced entry into the home, he said.
The welfare check was initiated by a report from a woman who had been sleeping in a tent in Mr. Pederson’s backyard, Det. Lt. Beyrer confirmed. Neighbors said the woman was homeless and Mr. Pederson would allow her to sleep in his yard, something that was well known on the quiet street leading to the Peconic Bay. The tent remained set up Tuesday morning near a barn Mr. Pederson used as a workspace.
Mr. Pedersen also had a house in Lynbrook and split time between Aquebogue and Nassau County, Det. Lt. Beyrer said.
Homicide investigators were on scene throughout the day Monday and interviewed neighbors. A crime scene van was parked in front of the house, where yellow police tape signaled to passersby that the small Cape Cod style home was an active crime scene.
“We want to learn more about his day-to-day activities, who he would come into contact with on a day-to-day basis, learn more about his timeline, his comings and goings, what he would do in both towns and who he was associated with in both towns,” Det. Lt. Beyrer said.
No suspects are currently in custody, he added.
Mr. Pedersen sold different types of antiques such as tools, signs and train memorabilia. There’s no indication he was involved in illegal activities, Det. Lt. Beyrer said.
Detectives are asking anyone with information to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.