Fifth body near Oak Beach, NY not missing woman Shannan Gilbert; Cops fear serial killer

Officer Looking for Remains in Oak Beach
Sophia Hall/WCBS 880
Officer Looking for Remains in Oak Beach
Sophia Hall/WCBS 880

(CBS/AP/WCBS) NEW YORK - Authorities say a fifth body found along Gilgo Beach, near Oak Beach on New York's Long Island, is not that of missing New Jersey prostitute Shannan Gilbert, who was last seen in the area last May.

Pictures: Megan Waterman

Suffolk County police found the remains Tuesday west of Cedar Beach about a mile from where the bodies of four other women, wrapped in burlap, were discovered by cadaver-sniffing dogs last December, reports CBS station WCBS.

A police spokeswoman said Thursday that authorities determined the remains were not those of Gilbert, 24, of Jersey City, N.J. An investigation into Gilbert's disappearance continuing.

Police did not say whether they had identified the latest victim, gender, or whether the death is connected to the others.

Forensics teams already have DNA matches to all four other victims found in the same area: 24-year-old Melissa Barthelemy of Buffalo, 25-year-old Maureen Brainard-Barnes of Connecticut, 27-year-old Amber Lynn Costello of North Babylon, Long Island and 22-year-old Megan Waterman of Scarborough, Maine.

Police suspect a serial killer may be responsible for the deaths.

The bodies were discovered during a search for Gilbert.

Gilbert had arranged to meet a client in Oak Beach last May. A resident of the gated seaside enclave has told authorities a woman believed to be Gilbert came to his door around 4:45 a.m. on May 1, pleading for help.

The man said when he attempted to call police, the woman fled.

A few moments later, an unidentified man in a sport utility vehicle drove past the house and said he was looking for the woman, but then took off. Neither the woman nor the man was seen by the neighbor again.

The client Gilbert had arranged to meet was investigated by police but is not believed to be a suspect in her disappearance.

Complete Coverage of the Oak Beach Serial Killer on Crimesider