Police discovered the decomposed bodies of three people on an isolated strip of Gilgo Beach in thick underbrush Monday, two days after finding the skeletal remains of a fourth nearby.
Det. Lt. Gerard Pelkofsky of Suffolk's Homicide Squad acknowledged last night the strong possibility that the four people - found near Ocean Parkway - are homicide victims dumped there by the same person or persons.
"Common sense tells us it's not a coincidence," he said.
As the sun set last night, Suffolk police were forced by darkness to stop the search. All four bodies were found within a quarter-mile of one another on the north side of the parkway.
Authorities have not been able to identify any of the bodies.
Detectives and other police officers searched a stretch of more than a mile on both sides of the parkway and a median. The search, amid ice and snow that began falling Monday night, is to resume Tuesday.
The skeletal remains all appear to have been there at least a month, but "some appear to be have been there longer than others," Pelkofsky said. The badly decomposed state of the remains means all will need to be identified through dental records or DNA.
A source familiar with the investigation said the remains found Saturday were those of a female.
Two of the three bodies found Monday were wrapped in burlap, the source said.
A special meeting is to be held Tuesday with Suffolk detectives, the district attorney's office, a member of the county crime lab team and a representative of the county medical examiner's office to go over what has been found so far.
On Saturday, a canine unit was searching in the area on a missing-persons case as well as for training purposes when the skeletal remains were discovered.
The remains in the underbrush, were about 6 or 8 feet from the road's shoulder.
Pelkofsky said a missing-person report had been made in May for Shonnan Gilbert, 24, of Jersey City, who police had been looking for Saturday when they found the remains.
Gilbert, who Pelkofsky said worked as a prostitute, met a client on Craigslist and arranged a meeting on Fire Island. She traveled with another man there to meet the client, where she was last seen on May 1, he said.
A Jersey City police source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed a missing-person report was filed for Gilbert and said detectives had done "extensive work" on the file.
"They're in contact with Long Island police right now," the source said Monday night, declining to elaborate.
After the initial Saturday discovery, detectives had difficulty doing a thorough search of the area because of the lack of light, Pelkofsky said. Heavy rain on Sunday prevented a canine unit from working there.
Detectives returned Monday, and officers and a cadaver dog found a second body, also extremely decomposed, about 500 feet from the initial body, also in heavy underbrush near the roadway. Two others were found a short distance away.
The area is near a strip of Ocean Parkway with beachfront facing the Atlantic on one side, and marshlands, thick brush and a chain of small islands on the bay side between South Oyster Bay and the Robert Moses Causeway.
At 1 a.m. Tuesday, two police vehicles remained at the scene. Several others had left for the night. Police said they would resume working the crime scene midmorning Tuesday.