Police hunt for bodies in NY serial killer probe
Published 07/04/2011 | 05:00
DETECTIVES returned to an overgrown stretch of a New York barrier island to hunt for victims of a possible serial killer, two days after more human remains were found there.
The number of victims of the suspected serial killer on New York's Long Island has doubled in the past week after the discovery of three more corpses along a remote beach highway.
The remains of eight victims in total have now been found just steps from Ocean Parkway, a highway leading to popular Jones Beach, about 45 miles east of New York City.
Three sets of remains were found near Ocean Parkway, a road leading to a number of Long Island beaches.
Last Monday's grim discovery in brush near Gilgo Beach brought to eight the number of corpses found in the area since 2010.
Now Police in Suffolk County, New York, believe that a serial killer is behind the murders.
Police Commissioner Richard Dormer last night said those resuming the search included police academy cadets, volunteer firefighters with extended ladder trucks and dogs trained to hunt for bodies.
The terrain is marshy and contains a metre-high tangle of sea grass punctuated by scrubby pine trees.
Four women working as prostitutes were found dead about a mile away in December, their bodies wrapped in heavy cloth; a body found last week has not been identified.
It took investigators a full month to identify the first group of remains using DNA and dental records as prostitutes who had arranged to meet clients through Craigslist and other websites, police have said.
The bodies of the missing prostitutes were discovered while investigators were searching for another missing woman who worked as an escort and was last seen in the area nearly a year ago.
The disappearance of that woman, Shannan Gilbert of Jersey City, remains a mystery although Commissioner Dormer said that because detectives have been conducting an ongoing search for her, they already have her DNA and other forensic information, which should accelerate the identification process.
Last week, investigators found a fifth body about a mile east of the first four. That prompted police to resume a widespread search of a seven-mile stretch of the north side of the highway on Monday, a search that yielded the remains of three more victims.
"We still believe that Shannan Gilbert is in this area," Suffolk's chief of detectives Dominick Varrone said.
Ms Gilbert had arranged to meet a client in Oak Beach, a gated seaside enclave. A resident has told authorities a woman believed to be Ms Gilbert came to his door at around 4.45am on May 1, pleading for help. The man said that when he tried to call police, the woman fled.
Moments later, an unidentified man in a sport utility vehicle drove past the house and said he was looking for the woman, but then took off.
Authorities have identified the four victims found in December as Amber Lynn Costello (27) originally of North Carolina; Megan Waterman (22) of Maine; Maureen Brainard-Barnes (28) of Connecticut; and Melissa Barthelemy (24) of Buffalo, New York.