Scattered Clouds 50° Good Afternoon
Scattered Clouds 50° Good Afternoon

Cops: Gilgo search to continue underwater

Suffolk County police marine units take measurements for

Suffolk County police marine units take measurements for a search grid planned at Hemlock Cove in Babylon. (April 12, 2011) Photo Credit: James Carbone

The Gilgo Beach search will go underwater Wednesday in a hunt for more human remains, as well for the woman whose disappearance sparked the serial killer investigation, Suffolk police said.

Suffolk marine bureau divers Tuesday assessed conditions in Hemlock Cove between Oak and Gilgo beaches as part of a widening criminal investigation with as many as 10 victims.

At least four of them are suspected victims of a serial killer.

The Nassau medical examiner's office also confirmed Tuesday that bones and a skull recovered at separate locations Monday between the Jones Beach tower and the county line are human, according to state and Nassau police.

Suffolk investigators do not believe those will prove to be Shannan Gilbert, 24, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

The search launched last December for the Jersey City woman who worked as a prostitute, last seen alive in Oak Beach nearly a year ago, has turned up eight sets of remains in Suffolk. Gilbert was not among them.

The bones found Monday in the first search on the Nassau County side of the barrier island are believed to be leg bones, a law enforcement source told Newsday. The skull located in an area of thick brush is likely that of a female, according to other sources.

No determination has been made on whether the Nassau bones -- recovered less that 40 feet from the parkway in a tied plastic bag -- are linked to the skull or to any of the previous finds. A medical examiner's report on the gender, age and race of the two finds is a week away, Nassau police said.

It is also uncertain whether the bones found in Nassau could match up with other recovered remains in both counties, which is why authorities have not yet said whether they have a total of 10 dead.

The four most recent finds in Suffolk include a young child wrapped in a blanket and a human head in a plastic bag. A separate set of remains shows signs of dismemberment.

Nassau and state police said Tuesday that for now, they would lead separate investigations, pending further forensic or investigative links to the Suffolk cases.

"If these have to be investigated jointly, then that's the way it will be done," said Nassau police spokesman Det. Lt. Kevin Smith.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said only that the agency will work closely with other departments.

Wednesday's planned water search, involving a four-member diving unit, follows a January look into the inlet at Oak Beach, three weeks after Suffolk police recovered the skeletons of four women, all wrapped in burlap, in Gilgo Beach. The discoveries triggered the serial killer investigation.

Nassau police said their ground search will continue later this week, weather permitting.

"We're going to continue to use all our technology and experts to bring this person to justice," said Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano at the search scene Tuesday.

With Matthew Chayes

and Tania Lopez

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