Reporting Mike Xirinachs
NEW YORK (CBS New York/AP) — The Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office announced Thursday evening that it has determined through analysis of forensic evidence that none of the human remains found in Gilgo Beach during the past week are that of Shannon Gilbert, a 24-year-old prostitute who was reported missing in May.
CBS 2 has learned the Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives have notified Gilbert’s family.
This comes on the heels of another twist in the investigation from earlier in the day. A man believed to be the last person to see Gilbert surrendered his SUV to detectives investigating the deaths of four women whose bodies were found on a deserted Long Island beach highway, police said Thursday.
That none of the bodies was Gilbert’s was a relief to Joseph Brewer, who met her on Craigslist and had his home raided and vehicle seized during the investigation.
“I’m innocent in this case, so I have truth on my side,” Brewer told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “I have no friends other than truth.”
WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs reports
A 10-mile stretch of Ocean Parkway was shut down most of the morning Thursday so to ensure police didn’t miss any potential clues or additional corpses, said Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer.
Dormer said authorities confiscated the vehicle as part of their ongoing investigation into a possible serial killer. He said there are no suspects in the deaths of the four women, who have yet to be identified, nor were there any updates on the disappearance of the New Jersey woman or a Maine woman who also worked as a Craigslist escort and was last seen on Long Island in June.
“The homicide detectives confiscated the vehicle of the John that had met with Ms. Gilbert. He agreed to give up his vehicle and there are no suspects at this time. We just want to cover all areas of interest,” Dormer told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan.
Meanwhile, state police provided local investigators with 10 police dogs as they expanded their search for additional bodies.
The four bodies were discovered within the past week scattered along a quarter-mile section of the highway. Police believe the corpses had been systematically dumped there at different times over at least 18 months.
The first body was located Saturday as police were searching for clues into the disappearance of Gilbert, who was last seen in Oak Beach, a gated community of million-dollar seafront homes. The other three bodies were found Monday.
Dormer had said earlier in the week that Gilbert was headed to Fire Island, but corrected himself Thursday and said she went to Oak Beach, which is on Jones Island just to the west of Fire Island. The bodies were also found on Jones Island, about three miles west of Oak Beach.
Dormer also assured residents that they shouldn’t worry about their safety.
“I don’t want anybody to think that we have a Jack the Ripper running around Suffolk County with blood dripping from a knife,” Dormer said.
Brewer said earlier this week that Gilbert had spent an hour at his home in the early morning hours of May 1, the day she went missing.
Meanwhile, a man who said he was Gilbert’s driver that day told The Jersey City Journal that her client phoned him and said Gilbert was refusing to leave. The driver, who didn’t want his name used, said he found Gilbert on the phone telling a 911 operator that a man was after her, the newspaper said. She then ran out of the house.
A neighbor said the same woman appeared at his door at around 4:45 a.m.
“I heard screaming at my front door,” said Gustav Coletti. “She was saying, ‘I need help, I need help, they’re after me,”’ Coletti told The Associated Press. He told the woman he was calling the police, but she immediately turned around and fled, he said.
A few moments later, a man in an SUV drove past the house and told Coletti he was looking for the woman. Coletti said the driver, whom he could only describe as Asian, told him they had been at a party and the woman had become upset.
“He took off after and I waited for the police,” he said. That was the last he saw of either.
A Jersey City, N.J, Police Department missing persons flier noted Gilbert is bipolar and is known to use cocaine and marijuana, as well as prescription drugs. She has a small scar under her right eye, tattoo of cherries on her right wrist and a scorpion on her back. Police have spelled her first name as both Shannon and Shannan.
Dormer has said it could days or weeks before any of the four bodies are identified. The New York City medical examiner’s office is assisting with the identification process.
“They are decomposed and visual identification is not possible. It could take 30 days to have that examination complete,” Suffolk County Medical Examiner Dr. Yvonne Milewski told McLogan.
Detectives believe the four women were killed elsewhere and then taken to the site, a narrow strip of land that divides the Great South Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. The four-lane parkway runs through the middle, connecting Jones Beach State Park with several state- and town-run beaches to its east.
Authorities also have obtained a DNA sample from the mother of a missing Maine woman last seen working as an escort on Long Island. Megan Waterman, who advertised her escort services on the online classifieds site Craigslist, was last seen in June at a Hauppauge, N.Y., hotel. The hotel is about 15 miles from where the bodies were found this week.
Dormer said the return of officers to Ocean Beach was a function of being thorough.
“We want to make sure that we didn’t miss anything,” he said.