OAK BEACH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police on Long Island have a new theory about a missing New Jersey prostitute after making a number of new finds Tuesday and Wednesday during their Oak Beach search.

Wednesday afternoon, the Suffolk County Police Department acknowledged they found a pocketbook and personal items — including jeans, shoes and a cellphone — they believe belong to Shannan Gilbert, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera Reports On The Latest Finds

Authorities also said there was identification belonging to Gilbert in the pocketbook, Rivera reported. Officials say they may be able to find Gilbert’s remains soon.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall Reports

Gilbert was last seen in Oak Beach running and screaming for help in May of 2010.  Police now say they believe that Gilbert was hysterical that night and fell and drowned in a marshy area near the beach.

“The items were found a distance apart, in an oblique manner, of someone just running wildly into this marshy area in the very early morning, dark hours.  We won’t know for certain until we find the body…we do expect to find the remains in that area,” Suffolk County Police Chief of Detectives, Dominick Varrone said.

That marshy area used to be a lake, but is now cleared out and not submerged any longer.  Police say the finds are significant because it tells them Gilbert’s disappearance was not murder.

“We believe that Shannan Gilbert ran into that area the night that she disappeared.  It’s very easy to get engulfed with water, muck, fall down and not be able to get out of there,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said. “We surmise that’s what happened to Shannan.”

On Wednesday, Suffolk County police brought in bulldozers and other heavy equipment to remove marsh and brush in a swampy area that was previously inaccessible. They also spent the morning searching with K-9 and marine units as well as metal detectors and amphibious vehicles.

While officials now do not believe Gilbert was met with foul play, her disappearance was what triggered a search and chain of events that turned  into a massive hunt for a serial killer.

Ten sets of human remains have been found in the area since last December. Police have said the remains belong to eight women, a man and a toddler. At least five of the victims were prostitutes.

Dormer has said he believes a single serial killer is likely responsible for the murders of all 10 victims.

Please share your thoughts below…

Comments (13)
  1. John Marin says:

    The serial killer explanation still provides a rational clue. What would a prostitute be in a god forsaken marsh by herself if not brought there by somone as an escort or customer. This woman must have been living somewhere with someone a pimp or a girl friend. Did she have ID such as a driver’s license, social security, credit card? There are too many imponderables here to defy the patience of a well heeled Sherlock. The game’s afoot is all Holmes would say about the not so thorough evidence at hand.

  2. D McBride says:

    These absurd sound bytes from Suffolk County Police hierarchy are ridiculous. Many other agencies that are involved, including the FBI and NYPD agree that it is most likely separate killers with separate time frames involved in the dumping of murder victims at the shore parkway area. The latest reports from Suffolk County PD change so often as to render their new’s briefs immaterial and ludicrous. Their latest theory of the missing young woman possibly drowning is so far out as to be suspect in the motive for the statement. Do they just want to defer the media attention by solving this missing person as an accidental death?, Sorry but it smacks of being too expedient a solution, and frankly unrealistic. To come up with a confused drowning without any actual evidence of a body is to rule out foul play by conjecture. I think the Suffolk county PD should concentrate on their News leaks of evidence discovered rather then the satisfaction of the media grasping for tidbits of minutia.

  3. Jennybgood says:

    Prostitute, check! Advertised on craigs list, check! Disappeared near the other murdered prostitutes that advertised on craigslist, check! Wtf? Something isnt adding up here with the drowning in the muck story…I’m not buying it!

  4. Rossy says:

    She could have been obviously running away from someone as she is screaming histerically. It doesnot make sense that they can just assume from this that she was not met with foul play.

  5. dontforget says:

    I recall earlier reports that the police were considering one of their own (possibly retired) as a suspect based on the way the bodies were hidden, but since then, there’s been little follow up on the news

    1. Exactly says:

      Good point

      1. Jay says:

        I think you will find it was the media saying that not the police!

  6. SallyRogers says:

    This so does not make any sense. Who was she running from? Screaming and running? I’m not a detective but I can safely say that she was caught and killed. Do they think that we are morons?

  7. Marvin says:

    These guys couldnt Play Pin the tail on the donkey without Help.

  8. SokrMom says:

    This is complete nonsense. I understand that the authorities sometimes put out strategic disinformation, but this is just insulting to the intelligence. I mean, really? A terrified prostitute seen in an area littered with the victims of a serial killer then, the authorities tell us, lost her life because she fell into a swamp and drowned, leaving her purse and her CLOTHING behind her? Oviously, the profilers have alerted the authorities that they are looking for an extremely STUPID serial killer, who will believe anything. Hopefully, the killer’s intelligence is not matched by the authorities in question, but I have my doubts, given the initial, equally ridiculous, assertion that more than one serial killer was dumping bodies in the exact same location. I guess serial killers are a dime a dozen on Long Island…

  9. domg98 says:

    Have they ever said why and from whom she was running and screaming for help?

  10. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx says:

    The weather is cold and raining today in NYC the Suffolk County Police have it in there contract they do not search for human remains when the weather is bad

    1. DP says:

      confirmed no crimes reported at any donut shop

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