Three more sets of human remains were found Monday on the eastern end of Jones Beach Island in a secluded area believed to be a serial killer’s dumping grounds, bringing the total discovered in the past four months to eight.
Investigators cautioned it is too early to say if the last latest four discoveries—including human remains found last week west of Cedar Beach—are linked to finding of four dead online prostitutes in nearby Gilgo Beach in December. Detectives have said they suspect a serial killer may have dumped the first four victims, but have not named any suspects.
“We’re looking into Shannan Gilbert as one of the remains,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told reporters at a news conference in Oak Beach, referring to the missing New Jersey prostitute who K-9 officers were looking for when they found the first set of skeletal remains Dec. 11.
The 24-year-old Jersey City woman was last seen screaming and running into the brush after meeting a client in Oak Beach on May 1, 2010. A neighbor in the seaside community soon after saw a man in an SUV come looking for her.
“We haven’t given up the search,” Dormer added. Dozens of investigators had descended upon the beach for a 7-5-mile sweep of the island using three local fire department hook and ladder trucks to get an aerial view of the rugged, marshy terrain—and they’ll be back again Tuesday.
The westbound lanes of Ocean Parkway were scheduled to be reopened Monday night but now that sections of the island are considered a crime scene again, the westbound lanes will be closed overnight into Tuesday between the Robert Moses Causeway and the Nassau County line.
Police have declined to discuss the gender or condition of the new remains, which have been taken to the county medical examiner’s office for analysis.
Suffolk forensic scientists are working with experts in New York City to identify the remains, a process that officials have said can take a month or longer. They have already ruled out Gilbert as the remains found last Tuesday.
More than 20 police academy recruits, three K-9 units, the marine bureau and emergency services units were involved in the latest search along with New York State police. Police helicopters have also been depolyed.
The north side of the island borders on marshland and is thick with underbrush, terrain searchers have found difficult to maneuver. Poison ivy and ticks have made the search grueling for investigators.
The latest search party is a redoubling of efforts after police initially came up empty-handed following a similar island-wide search when the first four bodies were found late last year.