Remains identified as Shannan Gilbert's

Shannan Gilbert's remains found Shannan Gilbert's remains found Photo Credit: Handout

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It's Shannan Gilbert.

The remains found last week in an Oak Beach marsh have been positively identified as those of Gilbert, 24, who was last seen in May 2010, Suffolk County police said Saturday.

The identification was made by the county medical examiner, police said. The cause of death has not yet been determined, although police suspect the Jersey City woman drowned.

She was identified based on dental records and a metal plate that had been inserted in her jaw, a source said.

"Our condolences to the Gilbert family and her friends. We hope this brings them closure and peace," Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said in a statement.

Lori Grove, Gilbert's aunt, said the family's hopes that Gilbert would be found alive were dashed, but there was some solace in the news.

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"There's a small sense of peace in that she's no longer suffering," Grove said.

The hunt for Gilbert, who worked as a prostitute, led to the discovery of a serial killing dumping ground around Gilgo Beach.

Homicide detectives riding an amphibious machine discovered the remains last Tuesday on the surface of a dense wetland thicket less than a mile from the Oak Beach community where Gilbert was last seen alive May 1, 2010, during a visit to a client.

Gilbert appears to have stumbled up to three-fourths of a mile on foot into the bramble.

Dormer said last week that Gilbert may have become lost or "disoriented" in the darkness while seeking a path to the Robert Moses Causeway, the road off the barrier island.

While investigators theorize that she drowned accidentally in the marsh, Gilbert's family doesn't believe it. She was afraid of water, they said.

"We believe it was put there by somebody else," Grove said of Gilbert's body. "We do not believe at all it was an accident."

Gilbert's mother, Mari, of upstate Ellenville, could not be reached for comment.

Gilbert's disappearance led to the discovery in December 2010 of the bodies of four other women. They were later identified as Amber Lynn Costello, 27, of North Babylon; Megan Waterman, 22, of Scarborough, Maine; Melissa Barthelemy, 24, of the Bronx; and Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 24, of Norwich, Conn. Police have said that the homicide victims worked as prostitutes who booked clients over the Internet.

Six more sets of remains were found in subsequent searches earlier this year, including those of Jessica Taylor, 20, of New York City. Her partial remains were found on July 26, 2003, in Manorville, and more of her remains were found March 29 off Ocean Parkway.

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The unsolved homicides date to 1996. Five of the 10 homicide victims have yet to be identified.

Police believe the eight women, one man and a female toddler were the victims of a serial killer on Long Island who targets sex workers and remains at large.

Gus Coletti, of Oak Beach, said he's still haunted by Gilbert's disappearance, knowing that she knocked frantically on his door seeking help early that morning.

When he threatened to call police, she ran away.

He said he still wakes up in the middle of the night in a panic.

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"I haven't gotten over it," he said. "If only I would've forced her to stay here until the police arrived. I should've done more."

As for Gilbert's family, Coletti said, "I hope they get some closure."

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