After finds, cops talk to Oak Beach man

The Suffolk County police K-9 unit searches wooded

The Suffolk County police K-9 unit searches wooded brush area along Ocean Parkway, where four bodies were recovered. (Dec. 14, 2010) (Credit: James Carbone)

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Turning up the heat on a 7-month-old missing-person case, police Wednesday night interviewed the Oak Beach man who was among the last to see Shannan Gilbert before she disappeared last May.

Meanwhile, sources familiar with the investigation caution that the four sets of skeletal remains found off Ocean Parkway Saturday and Monday ultimately may not include those of Gilbert, who disappeared from Oak Beach, or a second woman, Megan Waterman, who disappeared from a Hauppauge hotel a month later. While DNA work is under way, they say a first look at the bones suggests they may have been there since before last spring and therefore unrelated to either disappearance.

Police said only that since no one has been identified, no one has been ruled out as a possible victim.

Wednesday, as forensics experts in New York City began examining the first set of bones that were recovered off Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach, officers, aided by evidence technicians and a canine unit, were seen arriving at Joseph Brewer's home last evening, where Gilbert had gone the night of May 1.

Brewer told Newsday in an interview Tuesday that he had contacted Gilbert through Craigslist and arranged a date. But after she arrived unexpectedly with a driver and began to act strangely, he told her to leave. He said she then ran down the street and banged on a neighbor's door.

He said he had been interviewed previously by police, had been fully cooperative and that he had taken a lie detector test. He said Gilbert left his home at his insistence and that he had called police. The driver who brought her to the house also has been interviewed by police.

"I didn't do anything. I was totally cooperative," Brewer said. "I have nothing to do with this."

Asked if detectives interviewed Brewer at his home Wednesday night, Det. Lt. Gerard Pelkofsky confirmed that they had.

Suffolk police responded to at least two 911 calls from Oak Beach the night Gilbert disappeared, including one made by Gilbert in which police described her as largely incoherent and unable to say exactly where she was.

A month after Gilbert's disappearance, Waterman, 22, of Scarborough, Maine, also came to Long Island to meet clients, police and her family said. She vanished after checking into the Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge in June. The man Suffolk police say came with her to Long Island, Akeem Cruz, 21, is now in a Maine jail on a felony drug trafficking charge.

Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer, along with other police brass and county officials, met Wednesday with members of the FBI to map a plan for what promises to be a complicated investigation.

Review of old casework also has begun. "Normal procedure is to interview the last people who had contact before a disappearance," Pelkofsky said.

The Suffolk County medical examiner's office has begun dental analysis and will lead work with the remains, all in a state of advanced decomposition. Members of the New York City medical examiner's office will do DNA extraction from the bones.

Waterman's mother, Lorraine Ela, Wednesday gave police in Maine a sample of saliva for a DNA comparison. Standing in her living room, she put a cotton swab in her mouth, slipped it into a brown envelope, and handed it to a Scarborough Town Police Department detective.

Authorities hope the new sample will speed up the DNA matching process. Police also plan to take a sample from Waterman's 4-year-old daughter, Liliana.

Thursday, officers working with cadaver dogs will again do a sweep of the marshy, overgrown spit of land, west to the Nassau County line.

Authorities were also contacted by Atlantic City, N.J., police Wednesday on the unsolved slayings of four women who worked as prostitutes in that area, their bodies dumped near one another in 2006.

With Sophia Chang, Anthony DeStefano, Chau Lam, Matthew Chayes, Jennifer Smith, Robert Kessler, Patrick Whittle and Emily C. Dooley

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