Suffolk cops plan new search of Gilgo area

Police Commissioner Richard Dormer holds a news conference regarding the fifth set of human remains found at the beach. Videojournalists: Thomas A. Ferrara and Jim Staubitser (March 30, 2011)

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After finding a fifth set of human remains, Suffolk police plan an extensive new search of the Gilgo Beach area to determine if there are more victims, or clues, still to be found in the 31/2-month-old investigation.

The brush "is very thick, it's tough to get through, and it is possible to miss something. But with that in mind, we're going to go back on Monday with another full-scale search," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer.

Dozens of officers and cadaver dogs will comb the 7.5-mile area along the parkway from Oak Beach west to the Nassau County line. The effort is timed to start when the weather is expected to be dry and the dogs can work most effectively, police said.

Police vehicles again blocked off Ocean Parkway Wednesday as crime scene technicians worked in the sandy roadside brush where the badly decomposed remains were found.

The area has been searched several times since the bodies of four women who worked as prostitutes were found in December. Police returned to the area Tuesday looking for Shannan Gilbert, 24, who went missing last May from nearby Oak Beach.

The discovery of the fifth set of remains came near sunset Tuesday when Officer Ed McDowell of the Marine Bureau, which patrols roads as well as waterways, was driving slowly along the parkway looking toward the brush. He spotted "an item" and stopped to investigate, Dormer said.

The age and gender of the remains were uncertain because they "have been there for some time," Dormer said.

One mile to the west in Gilgo Beach, an officer was searching for Gilbert when he found a skeleton last Dec. 11. Two days later, three more were found nearby.

All were shown later, like Gilbert, to be white women in their 20s who had worked as prostitutes. Medical records determined Gilbert was not among them.

The four disappeared after meeting clients through Craigslist or other websites. They had been killed, wrapped in burlap and left unburied, police said. Investigators believe all were slain elsewhere and dumped on the isolated road by the same person or persons, within a quarter-mile of each other.

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Dormer declined to say whether there was burlap found with the newest set of remains, which were taken to the county medical examiner's office in Hauppauge. The New York City medical examiner sent a forensic anthropologist to Cedar Beach to aid with crime scene work.

Gilbert was last seen running into underbrush late on May 1 after meeting a client in Oak Beach. The client, Joseph Brewer, has denied any involvement in her disappearance. Reached at his mother's West Islip home Wednesday, Brewer, 46, declined to comment.

Gustav Coletti of Oak Beach -- one of the last people to see Gilbert alive after she ran from Brewer's home to his, agitated and apparently believing she was in danger -- wants the case resolved.

"I would like it to be over with," Coletti said. "We were an upscale community and people don't look at it like that anymore. It's like it's tainted."

The four known Gilgo victims were:

Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Conn., who was last seen alive in Manhattan on July 9, 2007, police said.

Melissa Barthelemy, 24, reported missing from her Bronx apartment on July 12, 2009.

Amber Lynn Costello, 27, last seen alive Sept. 2 in North Babylon, where she lived shortly before her death.

Megan Waterman, 22, of Scarborough, Maine, who disappeared June 6.

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