Missing woman probably not a victim of Long Island serial killer

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The search on an isolated Long Island beach for a 24-year-old woman who vanished last year led authorities to the skeletal remains of 10 people who were dumped there, by a single killer, authorities now theorize.

But it turns out that Shannan Gilbert, the missing woman who prompted the original search, was not one of the 10 victims, police said Wednesday.

During a two-day search near where Gilbert disappeared, investigators found what they believe to be her jeans, shoes, a cellphone and pocketbook. The speculation is that she drowned in the marshy area where she went missing.

“We believe that Shannan Gilbert ran into that area the night she disappeared’ in a hysterical state, Richard Dormer, the Suffolk County police commissioner, said at a news conference Wednesday. ‘Looking at the terrain, it’s very easy to get [stuck] . . . and not be able to get out of there.’


Police believe ‘she’s in there someplace,’ Dormer said.

Earlier this week, the police commissioner had announced that the other 10 slayings were probably carried out by a single serial killer who dumped the bodies on the lonely stretch of beachfront — a change from an earlier view that several killers were involved. The remains belonged to eight women, a man and a toddler. Of the women, the five who were identified worked as prostitutes.

Gilbert, a Jersey City native who worked for an escort service, was last seen in May 2010 fleeing a client’s home in a gated seashore community several miles from Jones Beach State Park. Gilbert’s mother, Mari Gilbert, told NBC New York that authorities said they would like her to try to identify the pocketbook they found this week.

The pocketbook was found apparently in an area that had been underwater and inaccessible to police during previous searches of the area, police said. But conditions were ideal Wednesday because the tide was low and more area was exposed.


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--Geraldine Baum