The search for bodies on the Long Island shore has been on the ground and in the air, and now it goes underwater in a case that's already turned up the remains of ten victims.
Despite high winds and heavy rain, Suffolk County Police dive team members will be in the inland waters between Oak Beach and Gilgo Beach on Wednesday in search of new evidence. It's the latest in a series of searches over the last four months, all of which have turned up human remains.
At an afternoon news conference Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told reporters "they’re looking for evidence. Any evidence connected to any of the found remains."
Commissioner Dormer pointed out the FBI has been providing support to the investigation ever since the discovery of human remains in December 2010 and he told reporters that on February 7th an FBI investigative team from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit located in Quantico, Virginia, also helped Suffolk County police. Telling reporters, "This team spent two days with our Homicide Task Force which included visits to the Oak Beach and Gilgo Beach areas." They later shared recommendations on the case.
The Police Commissioner also had a word of caution for any 'armchair investigators' out there, saying, "Please keep in mind that this is not an episode of "CSI" (referring to the hit CBS crime drama). This is an intensive, long-term investigation that includes the use of sophisticated technology as well as good old fashioned detective work."
The recent searches were originally sparked by the disappearance of prostitute Shannan Gilbert, who was last seen close to the site of the dive team's investigation. At least one evidence expert believes that searches like Wednesday's dive are likely to yield more bodies.
"We still know Shannan Gilbert is missing. Her remains were never found," John Jay College forensic criminalist Lawrence Kobilinsky told PIX 11 News, "It's unlikely that any of the new remains (that have been found) are her, (so) I'm afraid there will still be more bones found."
On Tuesday, police searched dense marshland by helicopter near Jones Beach, the day after they discovered two sets of remains in the area. They found a skull in a bird sanctuary at Tobay Beach, and more remains about a mile-and-a-half away, near the side of Ocean Parkway near Jones Beach.
The discoveries bring to ten the potential number of bodies found along Ocean Parkway since December, when investigators carried out the first of three different searches. In that operation, between Oak Beach and Gilgo Beach in Suffolk County, searchers turned up the bodies of 4 women, all prostitutes who advertised online. Megan Waterman, Maureen Brainard- Barnes, Melissa Barthelemy, and Amber Lynn Costello may have all been strangled, and their remains were wrapped in burlap.
Then, in between late March and earlier this month, cops found the remains of four more victims near Gilgo Beach. Their remains were not wrapped in burlap, as the prostitutes' remains were. Instead, some of the body parts found in the last few weeks were in black plastic bags. Wrapped in a blanket, however, were the remains of a child under five years old.
The difference in how the bodies found in each search were left implies that there may be two different serial killer cases. Acting Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter told PIX 11 News that he could not comment on that possibility, citing an ongoing investigation. He also said that he cannot say anything about information from unidentified police sources indicating that there are persons of interest in these cases.
Krumpter's boss, County Executive Edward Mangano, has been extensively briefed on the case and also said in a PIX 11 interview that he would not say anything to jeopardize the ongoing case. He added, however, that the message must now be that "There is no good place to commit murder in Nassau County." Mangano acknowledged that as his detectives work with Suffolk County investigators to solve these crimes, they must do all they can to ensure that nobody else considers using Ocean Parkway as a dumping ground for bodies.