New clues in search for Shannan Gilbert found on LI beach

December 8, 2011 3:25:51 AM PST
The search for a missing prostitute resumed Wednesday on the Long Island beach where the remains of 10 other people, believed to be the victims of a serial killer, were found.

Investigators have firmly linked new evidence found in a search near Oak Beach to Shannan Gilbert.

For a year and a half, Gilbert's mother has been waiting in her Ulster County home for information about her daughter.

Police on Long Island may now be closer to finding out what happened to her as they investigate a marshy area of Oak Beach.

"It's so cold and lonely and painful," said Mari Gilbert, Shannan's mother.

Wednesday night, Mari Gilbert waited in her home for investigators.

Suffolk County Police want her to confirm that the items found in the search belong to her daughter.

"I want to believe that Shannan is alive, and she's out there, and we're going to find her safe, I'm still going to keep that hope until I have positive confirmation," Mari Gilbert said.

A search of Oak Beach yielded more evidence, perhaps the most significant piece of evidence yet in Gilbert's disappearance.

A pocketbook with identification and police also discovered a pair of jeans, shoes, and a cell phone believed to be Gilbert's.

She was last seen running into that area of Oak Beach.

It was the search for her daughter Shannan that led to the discovery of the remains of 10 people, the work of an apparent serial killer.

Police do not believe Shanna Gilbert's death is related to the serial killer case.

Wednesday, they even suggested that her death may have been an accidental drowning.

"She did not know how to swim," Mari Gilbert said. "She would not intentionally run towards the water. If she's found near the water or in the water, the killer put her there."

Sources also told N.J. Burkett that remains found late Wednesday morning were determined to be those of an animal by the Suffolk Medical Examiner.

Search teams returned Wednesday to look for Gilbert's remains near where she was last seen, in Oak Beach, a gated seashore community several miles from Jones Beach State Park. The 24-year-old woman, from Jersey City, was last seen at a client's home.

The new search has been guided by an FBI flyover that took place last April. It produced points of interest, and close to 100 of them were searched Tuesday.

Suffolk County Public Works brought in heavy equipment to clear a marshy area that had been underwater and inaccessible during previous sweeps. It appears the way Hurricane Irene churned up the Oak Beach shoreline exposed some areas that authorities were previously unable to get to.