Amid serial killer search, man recalls woman's cries

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 14, 2011 4:21 PM

By Aman Ali

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As an FBI plane flew overhead in search of more bodies, a Long Island man on Thursday recalled one of the suspected victims of a serial killer running screaming into his home.

Authorities believe Shannon Gilbert of New Jersey, who went missing in May 2010, was a victim of a suspected serial killer targeting prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist. They believe she was visiting a male customer in the seaside neighborhood of Oak Beach on Long Island.

Oak Beach resident Gus Colleti, 75, said he saw the terrified girl shortly before she went missing.

"I opened up the door and she just came inside yelling 'Help me, help me, help me,'" Coletti told Reuters.

"She came running to my house screaming for help," he said. "I called the police and she ran out the door."

Shortly after Colleti called police, he said he walked outside to find a man searching for Gilbert.

"He said he was having a party that Gilbert was at and she got upset," he said. "The man said he was trying to get her to come back."

That's when Colleti said he saw Gilbert sprint away from a nearby boat she was hiding under and the man looking for her run after her.

"That's the last I saw of them," he said.

Authorities declined to comment on whether or not the man Colleti saw is a suspect in the case.

Details about the frightened girl emerged as police on Thursday combed the beaches and waters of Long Island on foot, with dive teams and using high-tech scanning equipment in planes flying overhead.

Since December 2010, remains of at least nine people have been found in several locations along the shore. Four of the bodies, identified as prostitutes who advertised on Craigslist, were found wrapped in burlap. The other bodies were not.

Most recently, two sets of human remains were found in brush along the beach this week.

The FBI and authorities in Suffolk and Nassau Counties planned to search more than a dozen areas.

"There's areas of interest and (authorities) will go in to see if they'll be able to collect any evidence," Nassau County executive Edward Mangano said.

"We hope to find evidence that will lead us to an apprehension to whomever committed these murders," Mangano said.

Nassau's acting police commissioner Thomas Krumpter said the aerial search has already provided several "items of interest" that authorities are further examining.

"We're going to clarify what those items are," he said.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)