Edwards dig

A patch of freshly turned soil was visible Wednesday at the old Noble Farm off St. Lawrence County Route 24 in Edwards. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

EDWARDS — An unoccupied, burned out property was alive with investigative activity Tuesday afternoon on County Route 24, where state police used heavy machinery to dig up land.

In an email sent to the Times on Tuesday afternoon, a nearby resident of the property described the activity as a “body search.” Several attempts to confirm the purpose of the investigation with state police Wednesday went unanswered.

The property was vacated Tuesday evening, with turned over earth left at the scene.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Gary M. Pasqua said he was briefed about the ongoing investigation related to Tuesday’s state police presence at the Edwards property, but would not comment further or confirm whether the investigation is related to an eight-year missing person case.

On Wednesday, WWNY-TV, also known as 7 News, reported troopers were in Edwards following up on a lead related to Colin W. Gillis, the college student from Tupper Lake who went missing in 2012.

Mr. Gillis, then 18 years old, was last seen in the early morning hours of March 11, 2012, walking on Route 3 toward Piercefield after leaving a party on Paskungameh Road in Tupper Lake. A motorist saw a pedestrian on the side of the road near the St. Lawrence-Franklin County line at that time and reported the sighting to state police out of concern. According to the Times’ archives, no one was found when a patrol responded to the area, not yet knowing Mr. Gillis may have been missing at the time.

Hundreds of volunteers searched for the Tupper Lake High School graduate in the days following his disappearance. A first-year SUNY Brockport student, Mr. Gillis was home on spring break.

Searches of nearby woods and waters were conducted, and state police previously reported they found items that may have belonged to Mr. Gillis on Setting Pole Dam Road in Tupper Lake.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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