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Sunday, May 15, 2011

DA: Multiple Long Island killers

Official: 4 sets of Long Island remains aren't linked to serial killer
(CNN) -- The four sets of human remains most recently discovered on a Long Island beach don't appear to be related to four others discovered nearby that have been linked to a suspected serial killer, the Suffolk County district attorney said Monday.

The evidence suggests that perhaps two other killers dumped bodies along Ocean Parkway in Gilgo Beach, about 40 miles east of New York City. But they don't shed any light on the investigation into the person or people who authorities believe killed at least four sex workers whose bodies were found last December.

"This investigation is not an episode of 'CSI' or 'Criminal Minds' that is going to be solved in a one-hour period," District Attorney Thomas Spota said of the serial killer probe. "Most likely, it ... is going to take a very long period of time to complete."

The four latest sets of remains were found March 29 and April 4. Homicide cases are now open based on three of the four latest discoveries, according to the district attorney.

The first set of newly discovered remains include the head, hands and forearms of a woman Spota identified as Jessica Taylor. The rest of her body had been found in 2003 in Manorville, a community about 45 miles east on Long Island.

Like the four victims found last year, Taylor was a prostitute, the district attorney said. She had been working in Washington and had come up to New York City for a few days before going missing. Spota said that, despite extensive interviews, there were no suspects in her death and the case went cold -- until now.

More body parts -- a head, hands and a right foot -- were found slightly farther east along the parkway. While no name has been attached to them, Spota said they match with a body found in 2000, also in Manorville.

Both these two women's alleged killer or killers "went to extraordinary lengths to prevent the victims from being identified," said the district attorney, pointing to efforts to hide a tattoo on Taylor as an example. "This is clearly not so with any of the other remains."

The only set among those recently discovered that didn't show any signs of trauma is "the full skeletal remains" of what is thought to be a female toddler, according to Spota. This unidentified child, who was likely between 18 and 24 months old when she died, was wrapped in a blanket and deposited in the same stretch along the parkway. The county medical examiner has yet to indicate a cause of death in the girl's case, which isn't now considered a homicide.

The last of the recently discovered bodies was an unidentified male, thought to be Asian and in his late teens or early 20s. Spota said the medical examiner's office determined that he'd been dead for "years," and his skeleton shows "evidence of trauma, but the cause of death is radically different from all the other remains."

"What is now very clear is that the area in and around Gilgo Beach has been used to discard human remains for some period of time," Spota said. "But there is no evidence that all these remains are the result of a single killer."

Previously, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said that authorities believed one or more person was most likely responsible for the deaths of four women whose remains were found within a quarter-mile of each other in that same area last winter.

More still unidentified remains have been found as part of the serial killer investigation in nearby Nassau County. But police have yet to link those to any other case.

All the while, the woman who originally prompted the searches -- 23-year-old Shannan Gilbert -- remains missing.

The New Jersey woman was last seen in May 2010 while attending a private party at a home in the Oak Beach community. Like the four victims who were found in December and have been identified, Gilbert had advertised prostitution services on Websites such as Craigslist.

Dorman told reporters Monday that authorities haven't given up their search for her.

"We're still concerned about the disappearance of Shannan Gilbert," the police commissioner said. "We're going to continue our efforts to find her ... both for our investigation and for her family."

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