|Woman's Remains Not Among 4 N.Y. Bodies|
|By ANDREA CANNING, JOANNA SUAREZ and JESSICA HOPPER (@jesshop23)||Dec 14, 2010, 11:45 AM|
A woman last seen running in terror from a Long Island, N.Y., house in May is not one of four bodies dumped along a New York beach over the last two years, a forensic analysis has concluded.
Police speculated that Shannan Gilbert, 24, might be among the victims whose remains were found last week along a road that runs beside Gilgo Beach -- a discovery that has prompted fears a serial killer might be on the loose.
"The Suffolk County Medical Examiner's Office has determined through analysis of forensic evidence that none of the human remains found in Gilgo Beach during the past week are that of Shannan Gilbert," police said in a prepared statement. "Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives have notified Gilbert's family. The investigation into the disappearance of Gilbert is still ongoing."
Earlier, police swarmed around the home where Gilbert last was seen in May and confiscated an SUV from the property.
Despite the search around the home of Joseph Brewer, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said he had no suspects in the deaths of the four women.
The commissioner also tried to downplay fears that a serial murderer was on the loose.
"I don't want people to think that we have a Jack the Ripper running around Suffolk County with blood dripping from a knife," Dormer said. "This is an anomaly."
This morning, authorities closed a 10-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway near Brewer's Oak Beach, N.Y., home. At least 20 police cars and 10 cadaver dogs arrived and began combing the area in a search for more bodies.
"We're going to expand the search throughout that community over the next few days," Dormer said. "We want to make sure we didn't miss anything."
Police are also trying to determine the identities of the skeletal remains, a job that could take weeks or months.
Dormer said identifying the bodies "is of the utmost importance for the investigation."
While their identities may eventually be determined, the Suffolk County medical examiner told ABC News they may never be able to determine how the women died.
Forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner said that the high level of decomposition will make identifying the cause of death difficult.
"Many investigators of serial killers focus on signatures and approaches that a serial killer may have taken ... a calling card. A calling card is a lot harder to identify with decomposition so advanced," Welner said.
Two Possible Victims Were Prostitutes Who Met Clients on Craigslist
Police say Gilbert met her clients on Craigslist and Brewer told Newsday that he had hired Gilbert for a "date" and that she was at his house for a party when she became agitated and left.
Brewer told WABC, "The truth will come out, the truth will come out. The police know everything."
Police won't say how Brewer's home, just miles from the crime scene, is connected to the investigation, but on Wednesday night they towed away an SUV from the premises.
Brewer's neighbors said Gilbert was last seen running for her life from the home.
Guy Coletti lives three miles from where the bodies were found. He remembers seeing a woman he believes was Gilbert on the night of May 1.
"She said 'Help me' ... and she just looked like she was spaced out," Coletti said.
Coletti said Gilbert came to his house and claimed someone was after her. Coletti called 911, but before police could respond, he said Gilbert fled, tumbling down his front steps and vanishing into the weeds around his house.
"I could have saved that girl if I had known something was going to happen," he said.
Gilbert's family said that she made a frantic 911 call herself and even named her alleged attacker. Police won't comment on whether the call was made.
Mari Gilbert of Ellenville, N.Y., said her 24-year-old daughter was visiting a client on Fire Island, about a mile from where the bodies were discovered, when she disappeared.
"She was running and knocking on neighbors doors screaming, 'He's trying to kill me,'" Mari Gilbert told ABC News.
Police are investigating whether Megan Waterman, a single mother from Maine, may be another of the victims.
"My gut tells me that Megan is no longer with us," Lorraine Ela, Waterman's mother, said. "It's been heartbreaking the past almost six and a half months."
Waterman's mother said her daughter worked as a prostitute and was also known to use Craigslist. Megan was last seen on June 6 at a hotel in Hauppauge, N.Y., a town near Gilgo Beach where the bodies were discovered.
"Me and my family have tried talking to Megan about the dangers of advertising on Craigslist. She didn't listen to us," Waterman said.
New York Bodies Linked To Atlantic City Case?
Police also told ABC News that they are looking at a possible connection to the 2006 unsolved murders of four prostitutes 160 miles away in the boardwalk area of Atlantic City in 2006. They were found lying in a drainage ditch.
"We have been in contact with authorities in Suffolk County. ... It would not be fair for us to comment on their investigation," Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday.
Attorney James Leonard represents a handyman who was investigated for the New Jersey murders. He was never charged and denies he was responsible.
"We're dealing with four women that were disposed of, and it would appear at least one of them has connections to prostitution, so the similarities to me are striking and very eerie," Leonard said.
If it does prove to be the work of a serial killer, it wouldn't be Long Island's first.
In 1993, Joel Rifkin was convicted for murdering 17 women. In 1987, Richard Angelo, nicknamed the "angel of death," murdered 25 patients.