SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The Nation

April 5, 2011

NY police to resume search for bodies near beach

OAK BEACH, N.Y. — The number of victims of a suspected serial killer on New York's Long Island has doubled in the past week following the discovery of three more corpses along a remote beach highway.

The remains of eight victims have now been found just steps from Ocean Parkway, a highway leading to popular Jones Beach, about 45 miles east of New York City. The bodies of four missing prostitutes were found in December 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, N.J., remains a mystery, although Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said Monday 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 where the first four were located. That discovery 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 additional victims.

Dormer said investigators would resume their search, which included police academy cadets, volunteer firefighters with extended ladder trucks, and cadaver dogs, on Tuesday. The marshy terrain features a 4-foot-tall tangle of sea grass punctuated by scrubby pine trees. At least 20 police officers have gotten poison ivy and the area is infested with deer ticks, officials said.

The identities of the most recent four victims have not been released and police have yet to even describe their gender. The New York City medical examiner's office is assisting Suffolk County in helping determine the identities.

"We still believe that Shannan Gilbert is in this area," Suffolk's Chief of Detectives Dominick Varrone told reporters Monday.

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