A day after investigators found the possible ninth and tenth victims of a serial killer on the western half of Jones Beach Island, a police helicopter did an aerial search for human remains in the area Tuesday but spotted nothing suspicious.
New York State police uncovered some human bones about a mile east of the water tower near the east end of Zach’s Bay and Nassau County police uncovered more skeletal remains several miles away Monday. Meanwhile, new details have emerged regarding bodies recently found on the eastern half of the island.
“It appears to be a skull, whether it is human or not, is unknown at this point,” Detectives Lt. Kevin Smith, a police spokesman, told reporters of the second discovery of suspected remains Monday.
The latest discoveries came a week after Suffolk County police found three sets of human remains along a desolate 2.5-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway. Another set of human remains were found March 29 near Cedar Beach, about a mile east of Gilgo Beach where the bodies of four dead online escorts were found in December—four women who went missing in July 2007, July 2009, last June and last September.
None of the six new sets of remains have been linked with the first four, but medical examiners are working to identify them. All of the remains were found on the bay side of the island.
A K-9 officer found the first skeletal remains Dec. 11 while searching for 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert, a New Jersey prostitute who disappeared from Oak Beach last May after meeting a client on Craigslist—the same website the four dead women used. Police are still searching for Gilbert.
Dozens of detectives, officers and cadets last week conducted a 4-day intensive search of the thick brush along the seaside roadway between the Robert Moses Causeway and the Nassau County line.
On Monday, about 125 state and Nassau police, some with dogs and others on horseback, scoured the area between Tobay Beach and the water tower while others used local fire department ladder trucks to get an aerial view of the rugged terrain. Those efforts were hampered by thick fog.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said Thursday that detectives are exploring the possibility that there may be a connection to the unsolved case of four dead prostitutes found in an Atlantic City drainage ditch in 2006.
If all of the cases are linked, that would bring the body count to 14. But the New York Post reported that one of the three sets of remains found last Monday is that of a child—a development that, if true, would not fit the typical profile of a serial killer stalking escorts.
Two Long Island men had been convicted of separately killing a combined total of 14 prostitutes in the 1990s and are believed to have killed more than 20.
Dormer said in January that all four women found in December—Amber Lynn Costello, Megan Waterman, Melissa Barthelemy, and Maureen Brainard-Barnes—died in a similar manner, but did not disclose how. Several news outlets reported Monday that at least two of those victims died of strangulation, same as the Atlantic City victims.
Although a suspect has not been named, the New York Times reported Saturday that investigators believe the killer may be in law enforcement based on the timing and location of six taunting calls to Barthelemy’s sister shortly after her disappearance on July 12, 2009.
The calls were less than three minutes—the minimum duration police need to pinpoint its origin—and were placed from Penn Station and the Port Authority bus terminal, areas too crowded to find or identify a suspect via surveillance cameras, according to the Times.
The Associated Press reported in January that a call to Barthelemy’s voicemail was also made in Massapequa.
“For anyone to come out and say a specific person, a specific occupation, or a specific type, I think, is unfair,” Smith told reporters. “I think it’s mere suspicion, it’s mere speculation. Right now it could be anybody.”
Newsday reported that the four most recent sets of remains found in Suffolk County were not wrapped in burlap like the first four were and that the skeletal remains found Monday was wrapped in a garbage bags.
Suffolk police maintain that no suspects have been named. They have also declined to discuss gender, age or condition of the latest remains found in Suffolk but a police spokeswoman said updates will come if and when the remains are identified.
The four victims found in December took about a month to identify.
Ocean Parkway is open in both directions Tuesday.
“Other than helicopter searches, the State Police has concluded that portion of the search and is moving the investigation to other avenues,” police said in a statement Tuesday.
With Associated Press.