The search for human remains continued Thursday in the Manorville area that sources say is connected to the Gilgo killings investigation. NewsdayTV's Shari Einhorn reports. Credit: Newsday/James Carbone

Police have launched a massive search in wooded areas in Manorville in connection with the Gilgo Beach homicide investigation, officials and a source told Newsday.

The search marked the latest development in the investigation following the July arrest of suspected Gilgo serial killer Rex A. Heuermann, 60, of Massapequa Park, in connection with the killings of three women. The former Manhattan architect was later charged with a fourth killing. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Gilgo Beach Homicide Investigation Task Force is actively investigating the unsolved cases.

On Thursday morning, more than 20 police vehicles, including over a dozen K-9 units, gathered at the Manorville firehouse, as the search of the vast woodlands continued to grow.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Police launched a massive search in wooded areas in Manorville in connection with the Gilgo Beach homicide investigation, officials and a source told Newsday Wednesday.
  • The search marked the latest development in the investigation following the July arrest of suspected Gilgo serial killer Rex A. Heuermann, 60, of Massapequa Park, in connection with the killings of three women. The former Manhattan architect was later charged with a fourth killing. He has pleaded not guilty.
  • The remains of two Gilgo victims have been found in the past in Manorville in the area where police were searching.

Mobile command units were set up by both Suffolk County and New York State police behind the fire department headquarters. The NYPD has also provided K-9 resources.

The search, which began Tuesday and has expanded in size each day, has covered wooded areas from Middle Country Road in Calverton to the Long Island Expressway in Manorville.

The first units to leave the firehouse at 8 a.m. Thursday were with New York State Police. The caravan of troopers headed out to the LIPA right-of-way east of Connecticut Avenue and Halsey Manor Lane to continue search efforts near the power lines. The remains of two Gilgo Beach victims, Valerie Mack and Jessica Taylor, were each found about a mile apart in the woods to the east of Halsey Manor Lane more than 20 years ago.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office has said only that the search relates to an ongoing investigation, though law enforcement sources have confirmed to Newsday that it connects to Gilgo Beach.

"We do not comment on investigative steps while they are underway," said a statement from the office of Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney. "We will make further statements when appropriate."

On Wednesday, investigators were working with 11 police K-9 units near the same area.

Tarik Sheppard, NYPD deputy commissioner for public information, said he heard the search is related to Gilgo Beach. Sheppard said personnel from the department's emergency services are on site with their cadaver dogs. NYPD dogs are needed because the area to be searched is large, he said.

A Newsday reporter and a photographer saw officers, including a Suffolk police K-9, searching wooded areas off Wading River Manor Road and Schultz Road bounded by the Long Island Expressway and Route 25 on Wednesday morning.

Just after noon, police dogs entered a different section of the woods off Ryerson Avenue adjacent to The Maples bar. Patrons of the bar said the agencies searched the same woods Tuesday.

By late afternoon, media from across the region had swarmed the area as news helicopters flew high above the pine barrens and reporters and photographers followed police to each area they searched. Those locations stretched from as far north as Middle Country Road in Calverton to the woods behind Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church and the Long Island Rail Road tracks and LIPA right-of-ways near the Long Island Expressway.

Passersby stopped with their cellphones to capture photos and videos of the spectacle.

When the search concluded for the day, the canine units met with investigators in the mobile Suffolk Police Command Center, which was set up behind the Manorville firehouse on Silas Carter Road.

One investigator was spotted by a Newsday reporter carrying an oversized map of the area showing two pins marking locations directly north of the Long Island Expressway.

The search ended at about 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Residents said multiple agencies had been seen scouring the area.

“All different state troopers, local police, canines, they’ve been just all over the area for the last two days,” Sheila Vasata said.

“If they found something, if they’re going to check this whole area, it’s going to take them quite awhile,” said Ron Martz, referencing the surrounding woods.

Manorville is the location where remains of two Gilgo Beach homicide victims had been found. In November 2000, partial remains of Mack, a New Jersey native, were found in a wooded area.

In 2003, partial remains of Taylor, who lived for a time in the Bronx, were also found in the same general Manorville area.

Other remains of both women, who had been sex workers, were later found along Ocean Parkway near Gilgo. No arrests have been made in the killings of Taylor and Mack.

A sign sits along Ocean Parkway in 2011.

A sign sits along Ocean Parkway in 2011. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Heuermann has pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree murder in the killings of Megan Waterman, Amber Lynn Costello and Melissa Barthelemy, and second-degree murder in the slaying of Maureen Brainard-Barnes, collectively known as the “Gilgo Four.” The victims, whose remains were discovered in 2010, were sex workers. Their remains were found “completely nude” and restrained by either tape, burlap or belts, court records show.

Heuermann was connected to the killings of the “Gilgo four” through cell site data, burner phone records and DNA evidence linking him to the women and the location where the bodies were found, prosecutors have said.

Prosecutors have said Heuermann had hundreds of contacts with sex workers in the years before he was arrested.

Heuermann's arrest in July partly solved the mystery that has vexed investigators, left heartbroken families and haunted Long Island for more than a decade.

The suspect, a married father of two who neighbors said appeared to be an everyman professional, has been held without bail in the Riverhead jail since his arrest outside his Manhattan office on July 13.

Michael J. Brown, of Central Islip, the lead attorney for Heuermann, couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

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