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

The K-9 police search of Manorville woodlands continued into a fourth day Friday, as officers headed deeper into the northeast portion of the hamlet as they search for human remains as part of the Gilgo Beach homicide investigation.

Suffolk County and New York State police could be seen searching areas north and south of Mill Road near Calverton. The NYPD is also continuing to assist in the search.

Other areas covered Friday morning include Connecticut Avenue and River Road.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, which is leading the investigation, and the Suffolk police, both declined to provide an update.

The law enforcement search of Manorville grew in size Thursday, as more than a dozen K-9 police units from three agencies scanned sections of the hamlet's 6,900 acres of pine barrens.

Cadaver dogs from the NYPD and State Police joined the Suffolk County Police Department's specialized K-9s to search a wide swath of land in the hamlet and neighboring communities for the fourth consecutive day, an effort sources said could last more than a week.

From the woods near the power lines east of Connecticut Avenue to the forest land south of Middle Country Road in Ridge and U.S. Department of Energy property in Upton, the dogs and their handlers appeared to cover more land on Thursday than they had a day earlier.

Police and prosecutors declined to say what has prompted the intense search of the hamlet more than 20 years after partial remains of Gilgo Beach victims Valerie Mack and Jessica Taylor were found in the woods near Halsey Manor Road, leaving local residents to speculate.

“It's definitely unnerving and kind of creepy but not unsurprising,” said Ali Krieger, of Manorville. “We live in a very wooded area and not a lot of streetlights, so people like to dump things. And you know we’ll see what pans out. I’d like to know what they’re looking for.”

On Thursday, police gathered near the mobile command centers that Suffolk police and State Police have set up behind the Manorville firehouse on Silas Carter Road at 7 a.m. and within two hours were searching in three different areas.

Suffolk police Deputy Commissioner Kevin Catalina and Lt. Kevin Beyrer, commanding officer of the Homicide Squad, were among law enforcement personnel gathered at the makeshift headquarters. Investigators searched into the evening hours.

Manorville is more than 25 square miles, with much of its open space in the search areas between the Long Island Expressway north to Middle Country Road. The entire hamlet is part of the 100,000-acre Central pine barrens, more than half of which is preserved, wild lands.

Brian Higgins, a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the former Bergen County police chief, said cadaver dogs often have to be brought in from other jurisdictions because they perform a “highly specialized” investigative function.

“Dogs really need to work, they need to keep their skills up and so do their handlers,” Higgins said. “But there isn't much work for cadaver dogs, so that's why you need to bring them in from other areas.”

And while investigators appear to be taking a no-stone-left-unturned approach, Higgins said it would be rare to bring in so many specialized animals unless acting on a lead.

“So it's not just random,” he said. “Something in the investigation led you to believe this is an area you should be searching with cadaver dogs.”

Ultimately the dogs are searching for the scents and gases that appear with the presence of decomposing bodies, Higgins said. The density of the woods and other environmental factors, such as weather, can impact how much ground police can cover in a single day.

Residents of the rural community were taking the spectacle — police vehicles lining the streets, news helicopters overhead — in stride.

“I hope they can give some closure to these families, if they can find people,” Manorville resident Chris Klausen said.

“Definitely police work put to good use, so I hope they accomplish what they’re setting out to do,” added neighbor Jesse Griffith. 

The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office has said only that the search relates to an ongoing investigation, though other sources have connected it to the work of the Gilgo Beach Task Force.

In November 2000, partial remains of Mack, a New Jersey native, were found in a wooded area west of Halsey Manor Road near Mill Road.

In 2003, partial remains of Taylor, who lived for a time in the Bronx, were located about a mile south near the Long Island Expressway.

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.

Massapequa Park architect Rex Heuermann was charged in four other Gilgo Beach homicide cases. None of his alleged victims had remains located in Manorville.

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, also were sex workers. 

With Shari Einhorn

The K-9 police search of Manorville woodlands continued into a fourth day Friday, as officers headed deeper into the northeast portion of the hamlet as they search for human remains as part of the Gilgo Beach homicide investigation.

Suffolk County and New York State police could be seen searching areas north and south of Mill Road near Calverton. The NYPD is also continuing to assist in the search.

Other areas covered Friday morning include Connecticut Avenue and River Road.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, which is leading the investigation, and the Suffolk police, both declined to provide an update.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The law enforcement search of Manorville resumed for a fourth day in a row Friday, K-9 police units from several agencies scanned sections of the hamlet's 6,900 acres of pine barrens as part of the Gilgo Beach homicide investigation.
  • Police and prosecutors have declined to say what has prompted the intense search of the hamlet more than 20 years after partial remains of Gilgo Beach victims Valerie Mack and Jessica Taylor were found in the woods near Halsey Manor Road.
  • Cadaver dogs from the NYPD and State Police joined Suffolk County's specialized K-9s to search a wide swath of land in the hamlet and neighboring communities for the fourth consecutive day.

The law enforcement search of Manorville grew in size Thursday, as more than a dozen K-9 police units from three agencies scanned sections of the hamlet's 6,900 acres of pine barrens.

Cadaver dogs from the NYPD and State Police joined the Suffolk County Police Department's specialized K-9s to search a wide swath of land in the hamlet and neighboring communities for the fourth consecutive day, an effort sources said could last more than a week.

From the woods near the power lines east of Connecticut Avenue to the forest land south of Middle Country Road in Ridge and U.S. Department of Energy property in Upton, the dogs and their handlers appeared to cover more land on Thursday than they had a day earlier.

Police and prosecutors declined to say what has prompted the intense search of the hamlet more than 20 years after partial remains of Gilgo Beach victims Valerie Mack and Jessica Taylor were found in the woods near Halsey Manor Road, leaving local residents to speculate.

“It's definitely unnerving and kind of creepy but not unsurprising,” said Ali Krieger, of Manorville. “We live in a very wooded area and not a lot of streetlights, so people like to dump things. And you know we’ll see what pans out. I’d like to know what they’re looking for.”

On Thursday, police gathered near the mobile command centers that Suffolk police and State Police have set up behind the Manorville firehouse on Silas Carter Road at 7 a.m. and within two hours were searching in three different areas.

Suffolk police Deputy Commissioner Kevin Catalina and Lt. Kevin Beyrer, commanding officer of the Homicide Squad, were among law enforcement personnel gathered at the makeshift headquarters. Investigators searched into the evening hours.

Manorville is more than 25 square miles, with much of its open space in the search areas between the Long Island Expressway north to Middle Country Road. The entire hamlet is part of the 100,000-acre Central pine barrens, more than half of which is preserved, wild lands.

Brian Higgins, a lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the former Bergen County police chief, said cadaver dogs often have to be brought in from other jurisdictions because they perform a “highly specialized” investigative function.

“Dogs really need to work, they need to keep their skills up and so do their handlers,” Higgins said. “But there isn't much work for cadaver dogs, so that's why you need to bring them in from other areas.”

And while investigators appear to be taking a no-stone-left-unturned approach, Higgins said it would be rare to bring in so many specialized animals unless acting on a lead.

“So it's not just random,” he said. “Something in the investigation led you to believe this is an area you should be searching with cadaver dogs.”

Ultimately the dogs are searching for the scents and gases that appear with the presence of decomposing bodies, Higgins said. The density of the woods and other environmental factors, such as weather, can impact how much ground police can cover in a single day.

Police vehicles from an NYPD K-9 unit stage in a wooded...

Police vehicles from an NYPD K-9 unit stage in a wooded area north of North Road in Manorville on Thursday. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Residents of the rural community were taking the spectacle — police vehicles lining the streets, news helicopters overhead — in stride.

“I hope they can give some closure to these families, if they can find people,” Manorville resident Chris Klausen said.

“Definitely police work put to good use, so I hope they accomplish what they’re setting out to do,” added neighbor Jesse Griffith. 

The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office has said only that the search relates to an ongoing investigation, though other sources have connected it to the work of the Gilgo Beach Task Force.

In November 2000, partial remains of Mack, a New Jersey native, were found in a wooded area west of Halsey Manor Road near Mill Road.

In 2003, partial remains of Taylor, who lived for a time in the Bronx, were located about a mile south near the Long Island Expressway.

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.

Massapequa Park architect Rex Heuermann was charged in four other Gilgo Beach homicide cases. None of his alleged victims had remains located in Manorville.

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, also were sex workers. 

With Shari Einhorn

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