OAK BEACH, NY (CBSNewYork) – Police in Suffolk County say remains found in the marsh of Oak Beach have been positively identified as Shannan Gilbert.
The Suffolk County Medical Examiner made the identification on Saturday, but police say an exact cause of death has not yet been determined.
“I think it is obvious to all that the Suffolk County Police Department has expanded an extraordinary amount of time and resources over the past year and a half to locate Shannan Gilbert. Difficult terrain was searched and re-searched. The last leg involved amphibious vehicles and divers in wet suits who searched over a hundred acres of marshland,” Suffolk County Police Department Commissioner Richard Dormer said Saturday.
Investigators found what they believed to be Gilbert’s remains on Tuesday in a marshy area on Oak Beach about a quarter-mile from where her cell phone, purse, jeans, shoes and lip gloss were found last week.
While her cause of death in still unknown, Commissioner Dormer has suggested that Gilbert accidentally drowned on the morning she disappeared.
Gilbert was last seen running and screaming for help in Oak Beach in May of 2010.
It was while searching for Gilbert on Dec. 11, 2010 when police found the first set of human remains along Ocean Parkway.
By April of 2011, police had discovered 10 sets of remains on Gilgo Beach, all found about seven miles apart along Ocean Parkway.
“Our condolences to the Gilbert family and her friends. We hope this brings them closure and peace,” he said.
But not everyone agrees. Friends and family have said they don’t believe her death was an accident and insist that the fact that her clothing and purse were found far from her remains, suggests foul play.
No word on when a cause of death will be released.
Dormer’s first one-on-one interview about the latest developments in the case since Gilbert’s remains were found began at 10 p.m. on 48 Hours Mystery.
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