Suffolk County police are searching for the third day in a suspected serial killer’s dumping grounds on Ocean Parkway where eight sets of human remains have been found in four months—none of which are the missing New Jersey prostitute who officers were looking for when they initially discovered four dead online escorts in December.
Forensic experts working to identify the latest four remains ruled out 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert of Jersey City on Tuesday. Meanwhile, dozens of officers and detectives continued combing through dense roadside brush on the secluded stretch of Jones Beach Island.
“I’m just shocked,” Sherre Gilbert told the Associated Press after learning from detectives that her sister was not among three sets of remains found when the 7.5-mile sweep began Monday. “I am still hoping for the best outcome.”
Gilbert was last seen screaming and running into the brush after meeting a client in Oak Beach on May 1, 2010. A neighbor said he soon after saw a man in an SUV looking for Gilbert, who met the client on Craiglist—the same website as the initial four victims.
Detectives have interviewed the client but not named him as a suspect, nor have they announced any other possible suspects.
Police previously determined Gilbert was not the fifth set of remains found last week west of Cedar Beach, about a mile east of the Gilgo Beach where the first four victims were found strewn in the brush about 500 yards apart late last year.
Investigators have neither linked the latest remains to the first four nor discussed their gender or condition. County medical examiners, who are working with New York City experts, have said it could take a month or longer to identify the new remains.
Westbound lanes of Ocean Parkway continued to be closed Wednesday between the Robert Moses Causeway and the Nassau County line while the search continues.
Police are using hook and ladder trucks from the three fire departments to get an aerial view of the marshy terrain while dozens of searchers and three cadaver dogs on the ground contend with poison ivy and ticks in the untamed barrier island thicket.
“We haven’t given up the search for Shannan Gilbert,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told reporters Monday.
The first four 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.