After a yearlong search, police on New York's Long Island announced Tuesday that they believe they have discovered the skeletal remains of a New Jersey prostitute whose disappearance sparked an investigation into a possible serial killing spree.The search dragged on for more than a year because of the difficult terrain involved and the thick foliage that usually fills in the area during other than the winter.
Crime Scene investigators use metal detectors to search a marsh for the remains of Shannan Gilbert on Monday in Oak Beach, New York.
With about a half-dozen news helicopters whirring overhead, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said searchers found the bones at around 9:15 a.m. in a dense wetland thicket, about a half mile from where 24-year-old Shannan Gilbert disappeared after meeting a client for an early-morning sexual encounter.
Dormer said the medical examiner's office would confirm whether the remains were Gilbert's, but the commissioner left little doubt that officers had found their intended target.
"It's certainly a sad day for the Gilbert family," he said. "And our condolences to that family on the death of their daughter."
The remains were found by homicide detectives about a quarter mile from where authorities found Gilbert's pants, shoes, pocketbook with ID and other personal items last week. On Tuesday, they were searching on an aluminum amphibious vehicle equipped with pontoons that can maneuver over land and water when they came upon the remains.
Gilbert's remains were found several miles east of the grouping of 10 remains that were discovered in the past year.
Police don't think that she was a victim of the serial killer, and may have accidentally drowned trying to navigate the area to a lit causeway and became hopelessly entangled in the brush.
That theory still doesn't explain how and why she fled from a client's home and feared for her life.
We'll have to wait for the forensic reports to determine a cause of death that may shed more light on her unfortunate end.