Police were just over an hour into their seventh day of searching when they finally came upon it: a human skeleton they say almost certainly belonged to Shannan Gilbert.
"We obviously are very glad that we found who we believe to be Shannan Gilbert," Suffolk County Police Commissioner Police Commissioner Richard Dormer said.
They've been hunting for Gilbert since she vanished a year and a half ago, after partying with a man she'd met on Craigslist.
Her disappearance into the tall reeds of Oak Beach led police to the grisly discoveries of 10 bodies along nearby Ocean Parkway, a serial killer's graveyard.
But, there was no sign of Shannan Gilbert until last week, when police drained 100 acres of marshland, and found her pocketbook and other personal belongings.
Tuesday, they think they finally found her.
"We went in with the idea that we were going to do this one last time to see if we could find anything, and we did," Dormer said.
Investigators believe Shannan's death is coincidental and has nothing to do with the serial killer.
They think Gilbert was irrationally running away from a nonexistent threat and likely drowned in the deep marshland.
It's a theory Shannan's mother Mari refuses to believe.
She's still convinced her daughter was murdered.
If not by the serial killer, then by someone else.
And as for the Ocean Parkway killer, she had a message for the man who terrorized nearly a dozen people.
"I just want to ask him who hurt you? Who hurt you this badly that you have to hurt others?" Mari Gilbert said.
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