Searchers are continuing their sweep of an area believed to be a serial killer’s dumping grounds following the discovery Monday of three more sets of human remains on the eastern half of Jones Beach Island—bringing the total found in four months to eight.
Dozens of police officers and detectives are combing a secluded 7.5-mile stretch of the barrier island Tuesday while forensics experts work to identify last latest four human remains, including those found last week west of Cedar Beach. It is so far unclear if the latest remains are linked to four dead online prostitutes found in nearby Gilgo Beach in December.
“We haven’t given up the search for Shannan Gilbert,” 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 Gilbert, who met the client on Craiglist—the same website as some of the first four victims.
Detectives have not named any suspects in her disappearance or the found remains, but they have ruled out Gilbert as being the remains found last Tuesday. They have interviewed but not charged the client.
Investigators have also declined to discuss the gender or condition of the new remains, which could take up to a month or longer to identify—even with the help of New York City experts.
Westbound lanes of Ocean Parkway will be closed Tuesday between the Robert Moses Causeway and the Nassau County line while the search continues. Police wrapped up their search at about 9 p.m. Monday.
Investigators are using hook and ladder trucks from the Babylon, West Babylon and Islip fire departments to get an aerial view of the rugged, marshy terrain.
More than 20 police academy recruits, three K-9 units, the marine bureau, the emergency services unit, police helicopters and New York State police are involved in the latest search.
The bay side of the island borders on marshland that is thick with underbrush, terrain searchers have found difficult to maneuver. Poison ivy and ticks have made the search grueling for investigators and cadaver dogs alike.
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.
Those victims were identified as: 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello, last seen Sept. 2 in her hometown of North Babylon; 22-year-old single mother Megan Waterman, of Portland, Maine, last seen at a Hauppauge hotel June 6; 24-year-old Melissa Barthelemy, last seen July 12, 2009 in the Bronx; Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Conn., last seen July 9, 2007 in Manhattan.