YAPHANK, New York (AP) - Detectives investigating the discovery of 10 sets of human remains along a Long Island beach parkway said Tuesday that DNA testing had linked one of the victim's bodies to an unsolved homicide 15 years ago.
The announcement came during a police briefing during which authorities released sketches of two of the unidentified victims in hopes that someone might recognize them.
They also released photographs of jewelry found on two of victims, an unidentified woman and a toddler. The woman and the girl were found miles from each other on Long Island, east of New York City, but police said DNA evidence now shows that they were related, although investigators have yet to confirm whether they are mother and daughter.
The announcements shed little light on who left the remains of 10 people, at least some of them prostitutes, scattered around Long Island over the span of a decade and a half. Police believe one or more killers could be responsible, though no suspect has been identified.
"During the past several years, it is believed one or more individuals have murdered young women working as escorts," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said at the briefing.
To date, five women who worked as prostitutes have been identified as being among the remains found strewn along a remote parkway leading to Jones Beach. Another set of remains were from an unidentified Asian man who was found dressed in women's clothing and also suspected of being a prostitute.
Investigators previously said that two of the prostitutes' remains were found in separate, distant locations; some body parts were found along the parkway last spring and others were located in 2000 and 2003, respectively, in a town 45 miles away.
On Tuesday, police said remains from one of the unidentified victims were matched by DNA to body parts found in 1996 on Fire Island, which is at least 30 miles from the parkway dumping ground.
The first of the victims was found almost by accident in December, when a police officer and cadaver dog were searching for a missing New Jersey prostitute last seen in a beach community along Ocean Parkway a year ago. That woman, Shannan Gilbert, has yet to be found.
Subsequent searches over the following months turned up the other remains.
Of the 10 sets of remains, eight were found in Suffolk County and two in neighboring Nassau County, near Jones Beach.