US & Canada

Shannan Gilbert's remains 'found' on Long Island

Suffolk County crime scene investigators use metal detectors to search a marsh for the remains of Shannan Gilbert 12 December 2011
Image caption Investigators cut through brush and bramble and used metal detectors to find the remains

New York police believe they have found the remains of a prostitute whose disappearance prompted an investigation into a suspected serial killer.

Investigators were searching for Shannan Gilbert last December when they found the first of what would become 10 homicide victims on Long Island.

Bones thought to be Gilbert's have now been found nearby, though police think she drowned, and was not murdered.

Most of the homicide victims are also believed to have been sex workers.

Gilbert's suspected skeletal remains were found on Tuesday about half a mile (0.8km) from where she went missing on Long Island.

The 24-year-old's clothing and other personal items were found not far away last week by police.

Clothing found nearby

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer told reporters that a coroner would have to confirm it was her.

But he added it was "certainly a sad day for the Gilbert family... and our condolences to that family on the death of their daughter".

Gilbert, from New Jersey, is thought to have died after fleeing a client's house early one morning in May 2010.

Commissioner Dormer said the location of the remains indicated she had been running through the wetlands in an attempt to get to a lighted area, but got caught in the muddy, brush-covered area.

Mari Gilbert, the dead woman's mother, said she did not believe yet that the remains were those of her daughter, nor was she convinced by the police theory that she had died accidentally.

"Until I hear positive confirmation that it's my daughter, I'm going to believe it's not, until I know for sure," she told reporters.

Commissioner Dormer reiterated on Tuesday that detectives still suspect a lone serial killer to be responsible for the deaths of the 10 homicide victims.

Relatives hold vigil

Their remains were discovered between December last year and April this year during the search for Gilbert.

Each victim had been dumped near a road on a remote barrier island at Gilgo Beach, though some of the body parts were found on the other side of Long Island.

The victims included eight women and a man and all are thought to have worked in the sex trade. Five have been identified.

The other victim, a baby, has been linked by DNA to another victim thought to have been her mother.

Authorities at first believed several people could be involved, but Commissioner Dormer said recently they now suspect one serial killer.

Police have not yet identified any suspects.

Relatives of some of the victims planned a vigil on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the first body's discovery.

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