Details emerge in barrier island case

Law enforcement sources say bones discovered in Nassau County Monday are possibly the ninth and 10th victims found on the barrier island. Videojournalist: Jim Staubitser (April 11, 2011)

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Police searching east of Jones Beach State Park discovered a human skull and a second set of human remains Monday, bringing the potential number of dead found on the barrier island since December to 10.

Even as the new bones were found, additional details emerged about the eight sets of remains found along the Gilgo Beach area of Suffolk. In December, the skeletons of four women were recovered and in recent weeks four additional sets of remains were found. Of the eight in Suffolk, sources with knowledge of the case say:

--One victim was a child, perhaps no older than 5, discovered near the remains of an adult. The child was found wrapped in a blanket.

--Another discovery consisted of a human head in a plastic bag.

--A third set of remains showed signs of dismemberment.

--One source also said that all of the four female victims found in December were strangled. One had an "item" around her neck.

The discoveries yesterday in Nassau yielded further clues, sources with knowledge of the case say:

--A preliminary analysis of the skull and vertebra suggests it is of a woman. The four Gilgo Beach victims were all women who worked as prostitutes.

--The other set of human bones was found stuffed in a black plastic bag. At least one of the recently found Suffolk remains was in a black plastic bag.

Investigators could not rule out the possibility that those bones belonged to one of the Suffolk victims.

"We had eight sets out in Suffolk County already. We have two more now. It’s all been very startling," said Det. Lt. Kevin Smith of Nassau police.

As the search for clues to the Gilgo Beach serial killer expanded into Nassau yesterday morning, a state trooper walking along the edge of an excavation site found bones believed to be human legs in a plastic bag.

About four hours later, a Suffolk officer and a cadaver dog in the dense brush of a wildlife sanctuary at Tobay Beach found a human skull sitting on the surface of the sand. The skull was recovered nearly 4 miles west of the nearest remains found in Suffolk.

The latest two discoveries increase the number of potential victims in what is now an expanding criminal investigation involving police from Nassau, Suffolk, and the state, as well as a team of FBI serial killer profilers, along with detectives seeking clues in other states.

The FBI’s profiling unit has been preparing character studies of potential suspects, and the agency’s forensic unit has been analyzing potential evidence and providing technical equipment to the Suffolk police, according to FBI spokesman James Margolin. Among the technical assistance has been an analysis of a computer owned by a man identified by police as a victim’s pimp.

"We will be working closely with state police and Nassau police," said Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer in a statement.

The serial killer case began in Suffolk in December with four skeletons found wrapped in burlap off Ocean Parkway, followed by four more in March and this month.

Differences between the first and second groups of remains — and the discovery of a child among the latter — have led police to investigate the possibility that more than one killer may have dumped victims in heavy brush along the isolated road between Jones Beach State Park and Robert Moses Parkway.

Investigators believe the four initial victims — all young women who worked as prostitutes who disappeared between 2007 and September of 2010 — were the targets of a serial killer. The sources said yesterday all were choked to death. At least one of the families of the four received a death certificate listing the cause of death as asphyxia.

None of the second set of four remains in Suffolk has been identified. The Nassau medical examiner transported the two found yesterday to begin the forensic analysis.

With William Murphy, Anthony M. Destefano and Robert E. Kessler

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