Shannan Gilbert ID Found in Search for Her Remains at New York Shore

Searchers found pocketbook, shoes, jeans, cell phone.

ByJosh Einiger, Nj Burkett and Richard Esposito
December 07, 2011, 2:15 PM

Dec. 7, 2011 — -- Investigators have recovered identification and other evidence linked to Shannan Gilbert, a woman who disappeared in 2010 near the swampy area on the Long Island, N.Y., shore that Suffolk County Police have searched for three days, officials told ABC News.

A pocketbook with Gilbert's identification, a pair of jeans, shoes and a cell phone believed to be hers all were found Tuesday during a search in Oak Beach, N.Y., Suffolk County's police commissioner said Wednesday.

Forensic tests were well underway on the items, sources said.

The evidence found during the search did not include human remains, sources added.

A medical examiner's team was on the scene today, but sources said remains discovered during the search were identified as animal remains.

Reports that human remains were found were inaccurate, multiple officials told ABC News. Reports that a woman's stockings were found were also inaccurate.

Gilbert is believed to be a missing person and not the victim of either a serial killer believed to have dumped numerous corpses by the shore beach or of another killer.

However, because the remains have not been found and homicide cannot be completely ruled out, investigators face a dilemma over what information can be released. Were the case to be a homicide, under the law, authorities would be strictly limited on what they could release.

Gilbert's mother on Tuesday expressed anger over her claim that authorities failed to inform her prior to the search.

A third day of searches at the Gilgo Beach Association area began Wednesday.

Ten sets of dismembered human remains have been found in the area, believed to be the work of a single serial killer who dumped his victims' bodies there.

In fact, there is a strong likelihood that Gilbert was not murdered at all, sources said, but was a victim of cold water and strong currents after possibly falling in to the water.

On the night of her disappearance, witnesses told police Gilbert did not appear to be acting rationally. She was last seen in May 2010 apparently running from someone near today's search area.

The recent searches, which included putting divers in the water, were not based on any new tip.

Warm weather early in the week and low water provided conditions that made it possible to walk through the high weeds and into the muck.

"Even with that, it was still exhausting," said one Suffolk County official involved in the effort.

The renewed effort began Monday under FBI direction and using information gleaned from past FBI flyovers with sensitive photography equipment able to see down through ground cover.

Dive team officers donned wet suits for weather protection, even though the swamp water itself often only came up to their ankles.

Canine search teams were part of the search, but the conditions were so hostile that often the handlers worked without their dogs.

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