Helicopter joins search for more remains

The Black Hawk helicopter used at Gilgo Beach by investigators made its last sweep over Ocean Parkway near Cedar Beach Monday morning. Jim Staubitser (April 18, 2011)

advertisement | advertise on newsday

An unmarked FBI helicopter flew over a South Shore island Monday in an aerial search for more human remains, police said.

The Black Hawk chopper swung low over Ocean Parkway at speeds as slow as 25 mph as it recorded images of the brush and dunes in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. The aerial canvass was triggered by the discovery of 10 sets of human remains along the barrier island since December.

The initial four skeletons found at Gilgo Beach in December, all later identified as young women who worked as prostitutes, are believed to be the victims of a serial killer. Officials have not identified the other remains, which include a young child and a skull in a bag recovered in recent weeks in Suffolk.

It is not known yet if any of the skeletal remains will be linked to the skull in a bag or a another bag holding human bones recovered separately in Nassau on April 11.

Like previous ground searches, the focus of yesterday's scan was the north side of the barrier island, where all the remains have been found.

Additional flyovers and ground searches may follow, depending on what is spotted by the chopper-mounted equipment, police officials said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"They're using sophisticated equipment to do some comparisons," said Suffolk police Deputy Insp. Harold Jantzen of the Marine Bureau.

Officials do not expect the high-resolution images to be ready for several days. They are expected to be sharp enough to spot small objects in the underbrush that may have been missed in previous ground searches.

The search forced the closure of westbound Ocean Parkway from the Robert Moses Causeway to Jones Beach State Park. The road was reopened about noon; the helicopter continued to fly over the island until about 3 p.m. Officials have declined to describe the imaging process.

Suffolk police divers are expected to return to the Great South Bay this week if water conditions are favorable.

@Newsday

Suffolk police last week conducted three sets of dives in Hemlock Cove, an area between Cedar Beach and Gilgo Beach, in a search for 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert, the Jersey City woman who disappeared almost a year ago in Oak Beach. The search for Gilbert turned up the four sets of remains in December. Since then, four more sets of remains were found in Suffolk and two in Nassau -- the skull and the bones found in bags. None was Gilbert's remains.

With Tania Lopez

You also may be interested in: