Three bodies have been found on a beach in Long Island, east of New York City, authorities said late yesterday, bringing to eight the number of corpses found in the same area since December.
The remains were found just steps from Ocean Parkway, a highway leading to popular Jones Beach, about 75km east of New York City.
The bodies of four missing prostitutes were found in December while investigators were searching for another missing woman who worked as an escort and was last seen in the area nearly a year ago.
The disappearance of that woman, Shannan Gilbert of Jersey City, remains a mystery although Suffolk County Police commissioner Richard Dormer said that because detectives have been conducting an ongoing search for her, they already have her DNA and other forensic information, which should accelerate the identification process.
Last week, investigators found a fifth body about 1.5km east of the first four. That prompted police to resume a widespread search of a 10km stretch of the north side of the road yesterday, a search that yielded the remains of three more victims.
Mr Dormer said investigators are resuming their search, which includes police academy cadets, volunteer firefighters with extended ladder trucks and canine teams. The marshy terrain features a tangle of sea grass punctuated by scrubby pine trees. At least 20 police officers have come in to contact with poison ivy and the area is infested with deer ticks, officials said.
The identities of the most recent four victims have not been released and police have yet to even describe their gender. New York City medical examiner’s office is assisting Suffolk County in helping determine the identities.
Ms Gilbert (24) was last seen in Oak Beach on May 1st, 2010, after apparently meeting a client she had booked through classified ads website Craigslist. The bodies of the four other women, who also worked as Craigslist escorts and were in their 20s, were found along the same highway by police searching for Ms Gilbert.
The latest discovery was about 1.5km east of where the other four were found. The remains were strewn about 500m apart.
Ms Gilbert had arranged to meet a client in Oak Beach, a gated seaside enclave. A resident has told authorities a woman believed to be Ms Gilbert came to his door around 4.45am on May 1st, pleading for help. The man said that when he tried to call police, the woman fled.
Moments later, an unidentified man in a sport utility vehicle drove past the house and said he was looking for the woman, but then took off. Neither the woman nor the man was seen by the neighbour again.
The client Ms Gilbert had arranged to meet was investigated but is not believed to be a suspect in her disappearance.
Authorities have identified the four victims found in December as Amber Lynn Costello (27) originally of Wilmington, North Carolina; Megan Waterman (22) of Scarborough, Maine; Maureen Brainard-Barnes (28) of Norwich, Connecticut; and Melissa Barthelemy (24) of Buffalo, New York. All were last seen planning to meet clients for sex booked through Craigslist, police have said.
Detectives suspect a serial killer but so far have no suspects.
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