Source: No burlap among latest remains

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None of the human remains found within the past two weeks near Gilgo Beach were wrapped in burlap, a source with knowledge of the investigation said Saturday, unlike the four discovered last year.

The burlap, a key piece of evidence among other shared traits of the victims found in December, led Suffolk police to believe they were the targets of a serial killer.

No determination has been made on whether the remains found March 29 and Monday are linked to the previous remains of four women who worked as prostitutes, police said. But "very significant" differences exist between the two sets that raise the possibility that the deaths are the work of more than one killer, the source said.

Investigators do not yet know the age of the remains found recently along Ocean Parkway, but one of them is "clearly quite old," the source said.

Melissa Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Conn., was the first of the four identified victims to go missing. She was last seen alive in Manhattan on July 9, 2007, police have said.

The three other identified women went missing in July 2009, last June and last September.

The remains found by Suffolk police on Dec. 11 and 13 were unburied, several yards from the parkway, wrapped in burlap. Officials identified them in January as prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist and other websites. All are homicide victims, police said.

Officials have not released the cause of death, but called them "substantially similar."

The remains recovered on March 29 and on Monday, which were all found farther into the brush than the others, have not been identified by name, age or gender. Genetic analysis is underway while Suffolk police await other forensic exam results from the county medical examiner's office.

Suffolk police found all eight while looking for Shannan Gilbert, 24, of Jersey City, last seen alive in Oak Beach last May. Officials have determined that none of the remains are hers, and her whereabouts remain unknown.

Starting Monday morning, county and state police will for the first time search the Nassau portion of the island, working west from the Suffolk line to the Jones Beach tower. The primary focus is a wildlife sanctuary and adjacent state land west of Tobay Beach Park, officials said.

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