Investigators hunting for a serial killer who has used a stretch of New York beaches as a dumping ground for his victims are calling in high tech planes and choppers to search for additional bones.
"This is not an episode of CSI. This is an intensive long term investigation that includes the use of sophisticated technology as well as good old fashioned detective work," said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer at a press conference today.
Dormer said that the FBI will provide investigators with planes and choppers that use sophisticated aerial imaging technology of the Long Island beach area where the skeletal remains of at least nine bodies have been found so far.
"Weather permitting this operation will commence later this week...We're hoping the technology will help identify skeletal remains that may still be out there," Dormer said.
The planes join the work of scuba divers who started searching underwater west of the Cedar Beach Marina today. Divers slipped into the waters of Hemlock Cove, a bay off a stretch of Oak Beach where some of the human remains have been discovered.
The divers were using measuring tape and technical gear to help with their underwater survey and divers used flags on the water to measure their progress.
The use of scuba teams and the high tech planes are an indication that police fear even more bodies could be hidden in the remote area near some of the area's most popular beaches.
Police have found at least nine bodies, including a toddler's body, dumped along beaches in Suffolk County and adjacent Nassau County. Four bodies found in December have been identified. All of them were female prostitutes who advertised their services on Craigslist. In the past two weeks, the bones of an additional five, possibly six, persons have been found. The bodies are still being examined by the New York City medical examiner and have not been identified.
"A visual look at bodies by untrained personnel is not useful…that's why we wait for the forensic examination," Dormer said. "At this time we will not speculate on age, gender or condition of the victims or any of the evidence that may have been collected."
Dormer reiterated that the public should not fear for their safety and that the serial killer is targeting prostitutes.
"The business that they were in indicated that whoever was targeting these individuals was doing it because of their business," Dormer said. "This is a very disturbing type of incident...people should be concerned…anybody in the business [sex work] in particular should be very careful who they meet and where they meet them."
Dormer ruled out any connection between this string of murders and the murder of four prostitutes in Atlantic City in 2006.
"The indications that we have right now is there's no connection between the Atlantic City and Suffolk County case," Dormer said.
The hunt for bodies and clues has grown to a small army of 125 police from Long Island, state police and FBI specialists.
Police are considering chopping down the thick brush throughout the area that has made the search so difficult, despite the use of cadaver dogs, horses, fire truck aerial ladders and a helicopter. Police fear that when the brush starts blooming in the coming weeks the search would become even more difficult.