Police investigators on New York’s Long Island announced today they believe they have discovered the skeletal remains of New Jersey prostitute Shannan Gilbert, who vanished in December 2010 after fleeing a client’s home in a panic.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said searchers found the bones at around 9:15 a.m. in a dense wetland thicket, not far from where the 24-year-old disappeared from the area in 2010.
Richard Dormer said authorities believe it is Shannan Gilbert‘s corpse, although further examination will be conducted by the county medical examiner.
Police began searching for Shannan Gilbert last December when they came upon the first of what would become ten homicide victims’ remains. They were strewn along several miles of thicket along a parkway leading to Jones Beach.
They think Shannan Gilbert may have drowned accidentally while fleeing a client’s home for an unclear reason.
The body was found about a quarter of a mile from where her belongings were found in a thick, brambled area.
Last week, the search turned up Shannan Gilbert‘s purse, containing her ID, cell phone and lip gloss, as well as her jeans and shoes.
Commissioner Richard Dormer said: “We went in with the idea we were going in one last time to see if we could find anything and we did.
“This is very tough brambled area, difficult to traverse, you can’t walk through that area and this is why it has taken us so long to find.”
He also said the location of the skeleton suggests that Shannan Gilbert may have been trying to flee across the wetland to a causeway.
Richard Dormer suggested that she had become hopelessly entangled in the brush, which he called a “tough, desolate, tangled mess”.
“The terrain would have made it impossible. Our people who were in there over the last few days had to cut through that brush and bramble area, before she was located,” he said.
Officers had to use heavy, earth-moving equipment to excavate the site.
Shannan Gilbert’s disappearance prompted the investigation which led to five bodies found in burlap sacks on Gilgo Beach last December.
The bodies have been positively identified as prostitutes advertising on Craigslist.
Since then, five more bodies have been found which have yet to be identified.
Police said they think Shannan Gilbert’s disappearance is unrelated to the other bodies but a single killer may be responsible for the ten dead.
Relatives of Megan Waterman and Maureen Brainard-Barnes, whose bodies were among the ten found, visited the scene on the first anniversary of the grisly discovery.
A police officer and his cadaver dog were following up on the disappearance of Shannan Gilbert when they came across the first set of human remains on December 11, 2010.
Two days later, three more bodies were found. By April, the total had risen to 10 bodies, all strewn along several miles of Ocean Parkway, on a barrier island south of Long Island that leads to Jones Beach.
Authorities at first believed several people could be involved, but Police Commissioner Richard Dormer has said recently that detectives now suspect one serial killer is likely responsible for all ten deaths because the victims all had some connection to the sex trade.
The victims included eight women, a man and a toddler.
Police believe the women were prostitutes and suspect the man was involved in the sex trade because he was found wearing women’s clothing. The toddler is believed to be the child of one of the prostitutes.