At least two killers dumped body parts along a remote beachfront highway, and remains discovered in recent months include the heads and limbs of two women whose torsos were found years ago in another town, a prosecutor said Monday.
Authorities also identified another victim, a prostitute, as being among the 10 sets of human remains discovered since December along Ocean Parkway, a popular highway near Jones Beach.
Investigators looking into the remains had theorized that they were on the trail of a serial killer, but now appear to be zeroing in on another possibility: that the remote stretch of highway is an inviting dumping ground for those trying to hide bodies.
Of the 10 sets of remains, eight were found in Suffolk County and two in neighboring Nassau County.
Authorities said the remains found in Suffolk include four women whose deaths appear to be connected, all of them prostitutes who had booked clients on the Internet; the two women whose dismembered remains were scattered along the highway and on eastern Long Island; an Asian man whose killing appears unconnected to the women's deaths; and a toddler whose cause of death is unknown.
"It is clear that the area in and around Gilgo Beach has been used to discard human remains for some period of time," Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota said. "As distasteful and disturbing as that is, there is no evidence that all of these remains are the work of a single killer."
The head, hands and forearm of 20-year-old Jessica Taylor, who worked as a prostitute in Washington, D.C., and in New York City, were among the remains found in March, Spota revealed Monday. Her dismembered body had been found in July 2003 in Manorville, a remote area near the eastern end of the Long Island Expressway and about 45 miles from where the rest of her body was found.
Authorities also located partial remains, including her head and right foot, of a second woman in Suffolk County in April. Her torso had been found near the expressway in Manorville in November 2000. She has not been identified.
Spota said detectives believe the deaths of those two women are related to each other, but not to the discovery of four women's bodies found in December along Ocean Parkway.
Authorities also said they had tentatively identified the other two bodies, and indicated those deaths may be unrelated to either the prostitutes found in December or the two women whose remains were scattered.
One of the bodies is that of an Asian man in his late teens or early 20s. His death has been ruled a homicide. Spota would only say that his remains had likely been on Ocean Parkway for several years.
The other remains were that of a female toddler between 18 and 24 months old. Spota said it was not clear how the child had died. Police have yet to even classify the child's death as a homicide.
Officials in neighboring Nassau County are endeavoring to identify the two sets of remains found in their jurisdiction along Ocean Parkway. A police spokesman said Monday there were no new developments.
Authorities still have not identified a suspect connected to any of the remains.
The first of the victims was found almost by accident in December, when a police officer and cadaver dog were searching for a missing New Jersey prostitute last seen in a beach community along Ocean Parkway a year ago. That woman, Shannan Gilbert, has yet to be found.