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Police expand Gilgo probe into Nassau

Suffolk County recruits from the police academy walk

Suffolk County recruits from the police academy walk along the Ocean Parkway eastbound lanes as they comb the dunes and south shoreline just east of Gilgo Beach, Wednesday morning, April 6, 2011. Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

The search for remains in the Gilgo Beach investigation will expand into Nassau County.

Nassau police Det. Lt. Kevin Smith said Wednesday his department will coordinate with state and Suffolk County police to "explore and investigate any criminal activity which may be in close proximity to the recently discovered human remains found in Suffolk."

No start date has been set, though officials expect to begin "over the next several days," Smith said.

The search will be focused along Ocean Parkway, where since December on the Suffolk side of the border eight sets of human remains have been uncovered, three on Monday and one last week.

The remains were discovered during searches linked to the disappearance of Shannan Gilbert, 24, of Jersey City, who was last seen in the area May 1.

The four decomposed bodies found in December have been identified as women who worked as prostitutes.

Suffolk police don't yet know the identities of the four latest finds. They declined to reveal whether any evidence found in the past week links them with the women discovered in Gilgo Beach in December, whom Suffolk Police Commissioner Richard Dormer has called likely victims of a serial killer.

Smith said the recent discovery of more dead is the primary reason to extend the search west. Also, with vegetation yet to bloom and the ground loosening as temperatures rise -- an aid to search dogs -- the time is right, he said.

Smith did not know how far west the search will proceed along the parkway.

"We are going to have to search until we are satisfied that we've done the best job that we can do," Smith said.

Suffolk police this week have sought to scour a 71/2-mile stretch along the parkway from Oak Beach to the Nassau line. By last night they had covered about three-fourths of that length and will continue their work Thursday.

Suffolk police have relayed to their Nassau counterparts their methods and what to look for in the sandy, windswept terrain that could indicate the presence of a body. No significant findings were made Wednesday, Suffolk police said.

Insp. Stuart Cameron of the Special Patrol Bureau, a search coordinator, said police recruits in boots and jumpsuits smashed through thickets, branches and thorns.

The result: a series of scratches and poison ivy.

"They're just forcing their way into it," Cameron said. "They're coming out with the jumpsuits ripped up."

The work was focused along the north side of the road, where all the bodies have been located.

Cameron also said that police searched Wednesday the gated community in Oak Beach where Joseph Brewer lived. Police have said Gilbert was last seen running into underbrush after meeting Brewer, who has said he summoned Gilbert to his home after contacting her on Craigslist. Brewer is not a suspect and has cooperated fully, police have said.

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