Investigators working on the mystery of the bodies found along Ocean Parkway in the Gilgo Beach area cautioned the public Tuesday against "unfounded" rumors circulating on the Internet about the case being solved.
"Unfounded, anonymous Internet postings or rumors about who may be a suspect should be given the appropriate weight they deserve by those who read them," said the joint statement issued by the Suffolk County Police Department and the district attorney's office. "It should be remembered that this type of unsubstantiated 'gossip' can cause substantial harm and emotional trauma, not only to the members of the families mentioned on the Internet postings, but also to the families of the victims."
The rumors peaked on the Internet the week Suffolk investigators met with Shannan Gilbert's family at the medical examiner's office to get her autopsy results, officials said. They ranged from actually naming a suspect to speculating that new searches were under way.
Investigators in both offices were flooded with calls from the media after hearing the rumors.
"While we are confident that this long, complicated, difficult investigation will eventually be brought to a successful conclusion, it will be the facts and evidence that will lead us to this conclusion and not Internet rumors," the statement said.
Law enforcement sources close to the investigation vehemently denied that the people named on the blog sites and listservs were suspects in the case and had anything to do with the investigation. Police have never looked at them as persons of interest, the sources said.
The Gilgo Beach murder case started with the search for Gilbert, 24, of Jersey City, who went missing in Oak Beach on May 1, 2010.
Gilbert, who police and family said worked as a prostitute, had traveled to Oak Beach to meet a client. She disappeared after making a frantic 911 call, and her body was found Dec. 13, 2011, in Oak Beach after 19 months of sporadic searches.
The search for Gilbert led to the discovery of a dumping ground along Ocean Parkway. Ten other bodies were found along the stretch, including those of a toddler, an Asian man in women's clothing and body parts belonging to remains found in Manorville in 2000 and 2003. Half of the remains found along the parkway during the searches have been identified.
On May 1, Gilbert's family announced that the medical examiner ruled the cause of her death inconclusive. District Attorney Thomas Spota and the former commissioner of the police department have both said they do not believe Gilbert's death is tied to the bodies found along the parkway.