OAK BEACH, N.Y. - (AP) - Detectives searching for a missing NewJersey prostitute have uncovered the remains of eight possiblevictims of a serial killer along a remote New York beach highway,but said Tuesday that none is the woman they have been looking for.
"I'm just shocked," Sherre Gilbert said in a brief telephoneinterview after learning from Suffolk County detectives that hersister, Shannan Gilbert, was not among the eight bodies found alongOcean Parkway on Long Island in recent months. "I am still hopingfor the best outcome."
Shannan Gilbert, 24, who worked as an escort, was last seen lastspring in Oak Beach, near where the latest remains were discovered,after apparently meeting a client she had booked throughCraigslist. The bodies of four other prostitutes, all of whomadvertised their services on Craigslist and were in their 20s, werefound along the same highway by police searching for Gilbert inDecember.
A fifth body was located last week about a mile from where thefirst four were found and police on Monday said they uncovered theremains of three more people. Police have not identified any of themost recent victims and have not definitively linked them to theremains found in December.
Detectives suspect a serial killer but so far have no suspects. The four dead prostitutes were found amid a 4-foot-tall tangleof sea grass punctuated by scrubby pine trees. Authorities haveidentified them as Amber Lynn Costello, 27, originally ofWilmington, N.C.; Megan Waterman, 22, of Scarborough, Maine;Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 28, of Norwich, Conn.; and MelissaBarthelemy, 24, of Buffalo, N.Y.
Although officers have searched the area several times sinceDecember, they intensified a search of the 7.5-mile area on Monday.After searching almost exclusively on the north side of OceanParkway, which leads to the popular Jones Beach, police academycadets, K-9 units and other investigators moved to the south sideof the roadway on Tuesday, searching a wide swath of sandy beachdown to the ocean.
The north side of the highway has proved a challenging searchfor investigators, who have had to contend with a thicket ofunderbrush and evergreens, peppered with a variety of trash, fromhelium balloons to car tires to beer cans and bottles.
Although police were able to quickly rule out Gilbert as avictim because of forensic evidence they had on file in her case,identifying the four recently found bodies could take weeks orlonger, officials have said. The New York City medical examiner'soffice is assisting Suffolk County officials with theirinvestigation.
Gilbert had arranged to meet a client in Oak Beach last May. Aresident of the gated seaside enclave told The Associated Press onTuesday that a woman believed to be Gilbert came to his door around4:45 a.m. on May 1, pleading for help.
Gus Coletti said that when he attempted to call police, shefled. He said he suspected the woman may have been intoxicated orhigh on drugs.
A few moments later, an unidentified man in a sport utilityvehicle 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 theneighbor again.
The client Gilbert had arranged to meet was investigated bypolice but has not been named as a suspect in her disappearance. Police said their search of the area for additional victimswould resume on Wednesday.
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